Gravely concerned by the humanitarian and health situation facing nearly 200 people held by Hamas, the World Health Organization called on the Palestinian militant outfit to immediately release all the hostages, and provide urgent access to them to deliver medical care.
The captives, including health workers and up to 30 children, were abducted from Israel by Hamas and other armed groups in a lightning operation on October 7.
Many of them, including children, women and the elderly, have pre-existing health conditions requiring urgent care and treatment. “The mental health trauma that the abducted and the families are facing is acute and psychosocial support is of great importance,” WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said following discussions on Wednesday with an Israeli non-governmental organization, the Hostages and Missing Families Forum, that represents families of the abducted people.
“We met today with families of people abducted from southern Israel on 7 October and heard firsthand the tragedy, trauma and suffering they are facing,” the WHO chief said. “There is an urgent need for the captors of the hostages to provide signs of life, proof of provision of health care and the immediate release, on humanitarian and health grounds, of all those abducted.”
Dr Tedros said the International Committee of the Red Cross should be granted immediate access to the hostages to understand their health status. WHO stands ready to provide the humanitarian organization, which is mandated to provide support to hostages in conflict situations, with any health support for the hostages, Dr Tedros added.
Meanwhile, the humanitarian situation in Gaza is worsening day by day, and UN Relief and Works Agency in the thickly populated enclave said it will be forced to stop operations at any time due to lack of fuel.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his forces were set to launch a ground offensive in retaliation for the October 7 Hamas attacks on Israeli territory.
Israel has vowed to wipe out Hamas, that killed around 1,400 people in the attack.
Israel’s aerial counterattacks were devastating, killing more than 6,400 people and injuring thousands more.
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