Eli Beer

Hold the Red Cross accountable for its inaction

Israel supporters shouldn’t donate to an agency that has historically abandoned the Jewish people – and continues to do so
A Hamas terrorist stands guard as a Red Cross vehicle transports newly released hostages in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip on November 28, 2023. (AFP)
A Hamas terrorist stands guard as a Red Cross vehicle transports newly released hostages in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip on November 28, 2023. (AFP)

On October 7th, that bloody Saturday on which Hamas terrorists infiltrated the security fence and brutally murdered Israelis, the terrorist organization took 240 hostages from Israel into the Gaza Strip.

Hamas continues to hold 138 of our sons and daughters captive, as a heavy cloud of uncertainty about their physical and mental condition looms over our country and the families who are questioning whether their loved ones are indeed still alive.

There was one light of hope that the Israeli public looked to amid the chaos. One organization that is equipped to save the lives of our people and help us gain a bit of sanity in the midst of the toughest days endured by the Jewish people since the Holocaust. That organization is none other than the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). 

But in the more than two months that have passed since October 7th, it has become clear that we hung our hopes too high. The world has learned that the prestigious international humanitarian organization has neither the bandwidth nor the fortitude to gain access to captives taken during the massacre or even to condemn Hamas for the endless list of war crimes it committed on October 7th.

The agency’s mandate states: “The ICRC is an independent, neutral organization ensuring humanitarian protection and assistance for victims of armed conflict and other situations of violence. It takes action in response to emergencies and at the same time promotes respect for international humanitarian law…”

Unfortunately, the organization simply does not live up to its mandate, refusing to take decisive action to protect Israelis, while doing nothing to promote respect for international humanitarian law.

It did not provide our innocent people with the critical medical treatment they are entitled to as prisoners of war. It has not brought medication to the elderly, despite the request by at least one family to do so. The Red Cross’s lack of action will have a high cost, as we discover the fate of the remaining hostages, some of whom will likely succumb to their conditions if they have not already.

As president of United Hatzalah, an emergency aid organization committed to providing medical treatment to any individual in need, we demand that the International Committee of the Red Cross do its duty. 

Yes, this is also personal. On October 7th, a United Hatzalah volunteer was taken captive and two were murdered. They were the first responders on the scene inside the kibbutzim, putting themselves in the line of fire to save lives. Multiple family members of United Hatzalah medics are currently being held in Gaza. 

United Hatzalah sent a letter to the Red Cross co-signed by former Israeli and American ambassadors and a world-renowned law expert, stating: “ICRC knows that hostage-taking is prohibited under international humanitarian law and that the Geneva Convention prohibits attacking Medics.” We sent them the names of our detained first responder and the family members of our volunteers demanding their release. We received no response. 

In Israel, one organization is currently a member of the International Committee of the Red Cross: Magen David Adom (MDA). MDA staffers have decried the Red Cross’s negligence in an open letter, demanding that the organization do more to treat Israeli hostages. MDA and United Hatzalah volunteers, and other medical professionals, joined forces in a protest outside the Red Cross headquarters in Tel Aviv, demanding that the international body take action.

Although MDA officials did condemn the Red Cross’s behavior recently, I call upon Magen David Adom to renounce its membership from the International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent. An Israeli organization should not be directly affiliated with a group that has a clear anti-Israel bent and blatantly discriminates against Jews.

It is true that the Red Cross relies on the concept of neutrality to do its humanitarian work inside conflict zones, but the attack on October 7th is different. It is of a magnitude and severity of which the world has not witnessed in modern history. Beside the brutal killings, rape, mutilation and burning of families in their homes, over 30 children were taken, including toddlers and a baby as young as 9 months, women, elderly above 80, and even a Holocaust survivor. Captives report that they were held in Hamas terror tunnels, with zero sunlight, a scarce air supply, without sufficient food and water, many returning thin and ill. 

Hamas livestreamed and distributed footage of their slaughter of Israelis to the world, and images emerged of our captives being dragged into Gaza with fresh blood dripping from their wounds and mutilated body parts. From the onset of the Hamas-driven war, it was clear that a significant number of our people were in need of urgent medical care. 

The organization did nothing for their release, other than picking up released hostages and driving them from point A to point B, acting as nothing more than an Uber-like transportation service for hostages. During the recent rounds of releases, the Red Cross drove the hostages through Gaza in its branded vehicles with white flags waving from the roof, in a shameful and embarrassing theatrical performance. They failed to cover the vehicle windows, leaving the hostages visible and enabling Hamas members to film the scene and use the images to defraud the world with a fake humanitarian facade.

Evidence presented by the Israeli Health Ministry proves that Hamas gave tranquilizers to the captives upon their release to make them appear calm and content after almost two months of abuse in captivity. International media broadcast this fake act of heroism to the world, providing the Red Cross with free publicity and exposure, helping the organization to raise extensive funds for its “humanitarian” work. People supporting the Red Cross should know that their money is aiding one side. 

This isn’t the first time the Red Cross has failed the Jewish people. During World War II, the Red Cross in Germany and the occupied European territories relied on Nazi permission to perform its duty, and the Nazi authorities did not permit Red Cross visits to concentration camps. The organization remained silent, not contesting the Nazi decision or voicing a public decry. One can’t help but make the connection between the agency’s treatments of Jews in the Second World War and its treatment of Jews in Gaza today.

Yet again, the Red Cross exposed its true face in the light of one of the world’s most vile humanitarian catastrophes. 

I call upon anyone who wants to support Israel to stop their support for the Red Cross; your money isn’t reaching the Jewish people during this conflict, and there are more significant ways to help out Israel during this time. 

I call upon the Red Cross to reverse course from its historic abandonment of the Jewish people. 

I call upon the international community to speak up in the face of injustice.

It is time for us all to stand up against bigotry, call out inequality, and demand action. We owe it to the innocent victims, hostages, and their families. 

If the past has taught us anything, it is that silence is the biggest threat to humanity. 

About the Author
Saving lives has been my life's mission since I was a teenager. This passion to save people has led me to create United Hatzalah, a fully non-profit emergency response organization.
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