Family members of hostages meet wth Red Cross
Family members of hostages meet wth Red CrossRed Cross

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Tuesday responded to allegations that its officials told families of Israeli hostages that they should think of the suffering of Palestinian Arabs in Gaza, CNN reports.

On Monday, Dor Steinbrecher, whose 30-year-old sister Doron was kidnapped by Hamas and is still being held Gaza Strip, told CNN’s Jake Tapper that the family had been told by Red Cross officials that “we should care more about the Arab people on the other side,” and “less about our beloved one.”

Steinbrecher told Tapper his sister needed daily medication.

Tapper asked Steinbrecher: “Your parents told this to the Red Cross in the hope that they would be able to get the medication to her wherever she is, and their response was you should be worried more about the people of Gaza? That's what the Red Cross said to your parents?”

 “Yes,” Steinbrecher replied, describing it as a “shocking” response.

While the ICRC did not address the allegation directly in its response to CNN, it said in a statement, 

“In our direct discussions with families, we listen to their concerns and the difficulties they are going through. We explain our role as a neutral intermediary and the challenges of working in Gaza, now an active conflict zone.”

The ICRC also said it explained to families that its goal was to alleviate the suffering of victims of conflict on all sides. “That, of course, includes the hostages.”

“We need a solid agreement, from both parties, in order to have the necessary conditions to either facilitate a release, or access those held hostage. This includes needing to know their location, which we currently do not. We do not take part in this negotiation, but are ready to support whenever an agreement may be reached," the statement read. “We do not have weapons, nor do we have political affiliations. What we have is trust from the parties involved that our organization is, and will remain, neutral in times of conflict.”

The Red Cross has been criticized over its failure to visit the Israeli hostages who have been held by Hamas in Gaza since its October 7 attack on Israel.

Red Cross President Mirjana Spoljaric recently visited the Gaza Strip, where she was supposed to coordinate visits by Red Cross personnel to hostages who are being held by Hamas.

However, in a video she released after the visit, Spoljaric barely mentioned the hostages and mostly spoke about the plight of Gazan residents.

Only towards the end of the nearly two-minute video, did the Red Cross chief briefly mentioned the hostages abducted by Hamas during its October 7 attack on Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last month met with Spoljaric at the Kirya in Tel Aviv, where he presented the ICRC President with a full package of vital medicines and demanded that the ICRC fulfill its role and deliver it to the hostages in Gaza.

“My goal, as you know in our conversations, is to see how we can help the remaining hostages. You have every avenue, every right and every expectation to place public pressure on Hamas," Netanyahu told Spoljaric.