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Professor Anne Bayefsky, the Director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust and President of Human Rights Voices, spoke to Arutz Sheva - Israel National News about the meeting that was held at the United Nations last week on the issue of the Israeli hostages held by the Hamas terrorist organization.

Prof. Bayefsky stated that contrary to reports that this was the first meeting of the UN Security Council devoted to the hostages, the meeting was not in fact an official gathering of the Security Council.

"The UN remains fast at work covering up its appalling treatment of the hostages and ongoing Palestinian sexual atrocities against Jews. Contrary to the misinformation that the UN Security Council held its first-ever meeting devoted to the hostages, the Council refused to hold a meeting devoted to the hostages. It was precisely because of that refusal that a Council member sponsored a so-called Arria formula meeting of interested states on the subject. It was not an official meeting. It was not even held in the Council's official chamber. And to top it all off, not a single UN official appeared," she said.

"None of this is accidental. The Security Council has never condemned Hamas and October 7th. And UN chief Secretary-General Guterres is leading the campaign to divert attention from the terrible reality of Israeli victims as part of an overall strategy to deny Israel its fundamental right - its duty - of self-defense," Bayefsky said.

UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict and Under-Secretary-General Pramila Patten was originally supposed to attend Thursday's meeting but pulled out several days beforehand.

During the meeting, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan strongly criticized the UN for its inaction on the plight of the hostages held by Hamas.

"Our hostages have been held in Gaza for 223 days, and this is the first meeting being held by any UN body to focus on their suffering and ways to release them,” Erdan said. “In the past 32 weeks since October 7th, the Security Council and the UN have done practically nothing to secure the release of the hostages. It is heartbreaking and amoral."

“Israel has done everything possible to get medication to the hostages in need – through the Red Cross and through other mediators – but to this day, there has not even been any confirmation that they reached the hostages. Not a word,” he added.

“The hostages are the most urgent and critical humanitarian issue that the Council must focus on. The reason the war started was not because of the humanitarian situation in Gaza. There was a ceasefire on October 6th. The reason this war started was because Hamas took our loved ones hostage and refused to release them! Kidnapping the hostages is why this war began and the hostages are why this war continues!” he pointed out.

“If the Council truly wants this war to end, then bringing the hostages home should be the top priority!” Erdan said. “How do you think the Israeli people feel when they see the dozens of UN meetings held only on the humanitarian situation in Gaza, and not even one meeting, formally, dedicated to securing the release of the hostages?”

“Until today, the inaction of the UN has been outrageous, but its true effect will be felt in the years to come. It has become clear to all that taking innocents hostage as a weapon in the hands of terrorists bears no consequences from the international community,” he continued, warning, “This inaction may lead to a catastrophic precedent that will incentivize rogue entities to kidnap civilians.”