Missing Israeli nationals: Hamas must abide by international humanitarian law

08 June 2017

Tel Aviv – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) urges the Hamas authorities to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law with regard to the five Israeli nationals who went missing in Gaza between July 2014 and 2016 and remain unaccounted for.

Missing persons, regardless of their status – soldiers fallen or captured during the fighting, or civilians taken captive by an adverse party – are protected by humanitarian law. They and their families must be shown due regard under the law.

"Persons captured alive must be accounted for and treated humanely. Human remains, too, must be handled with dignity, identified and returned to the families concerned," said Jacques de Maio, the head of the ICRC's delegation in Israel and the occupied territories. "These are among the most widely accepted rules of warfare."

The ICRC has consistently reminded the Hamas authorities, at the highest level, of their legal and humanitarian obligations, and told them that intentionally withholding information about missing persons is acting in violation of humanitarian law.

The right to know the fate of missing relatives is a fundamental principle of humanitarian law. Yet, recent video clips portraying the missing Israeli nationals and their families are giving rise to new speculations about their fate and adding to their families' anguish.

The ICRC is in direct contact with the families concerned and remains committed to ascertaining the fate of all persons still unaccounted for.

For further information, please contact:
Sabine Sitruk (Hebrew, English, French, Italian), ICRC Tel Aviv, tel: +972 52 513 3000
Jesus Serrano (English, French and Spanish), ICRC Jerusalem, tel: +972 52 601 9150
Suhair Zakkout (Arabic and English), ICRC Gaza, tel: +972 59 92 55 381