Shersh Goldberg-Polin, who was 23 years old when he was taken by Hamas and had his left arm severed by a hand grenade, has been missing for forty-four days, and his parents have no clue if he is still alive or dead, maybe buried somewhere in the debris of Gaza.
Regarding Mr. Goldberg-Polin and the other almost 240 individuals who are thought to be kept prisoner in Gaza, there is no information available regarding their whereabouts. No trace of life has been found, and there is no indication that they are being fed or given medication. Furthermore, there has been no communication with the outside world.
The relatives of the hostages have expressed that the lack of knowledge is virtually intolerable, putting them in a state of frantic need for information at a time when they are getting almost none. This is despite the fact that there are rumors circulating about a potential agreement that might result in the release of certain women and children.
According to the families, negotiations are taking place far away from the public eye, and the governments of Israel and the United States have not disclosed too much information about the individuals who may be included in a deal. Relatives have been informed, both publicly and privately, by authorities that the discussions are too confidential to provide any information about them.
Families have expressed their dissatisfaction with relief groups, including the Red Cross, since they have been kept in the dark for a period of six weeks. According to the Red Cross, Hamas has refused to provide its employees access to see the captives.
In 1949, the International Committee of the Red Cross was established as the world’s neutral organization entrusted with identifying and sharing information about those who are injured, ill, or jailed during times of conflict. The appeals have been heard within the headquarters of the organization, which is located in Geneva.
However, the leaders of the group are certain that they are making every effort, both in public and behind the scenes, to talk with Hamas via all possible means.
He said that the Red Cross has around 130 staff in Gaza, which provides it with the capacity to distribute humanitarian supplies and to visit the areas that have been destroyed as a result of the violent conflict. Nevertheless, even with such access, it is necessary to have an arrangement with Hamas in order to meet with the captives.
According to Mr. Straziuso, representatives of the Red Cross were in communication with Hamas, Israel, the United States of America, and other countries on the captives’ current situation.
Israel and the United States are only interacting with Hamas via the use of communications that are sent back and forth by negotiators in Egypt and Qatar. Separate negotiations over the possibility of releasing some of the captives are now being undertaken through intermediaries.
An individual who has a leadership position within Hamas said in October that the organization was not holding all of the Israeli captives who were brought to Gaza. This assertion is likely to make the process of negotiating for their release more difficult. Osama Hamdan, a member of Hamas’s political bureau in Lebanon, said that other factions, such as Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a different organization that is an associate of Hamas, were also holding some of the captives. Hamas is a terrorist organization.
Towards the end of October, Israeli soldiers were successful in rescuing one captive, and about one week earlier, Hamas had freed four other hostages. On the other hand, there have been no more advances.
Over the course of prior wars, governments who were at war with one another prevented the Red Cross from visiting prisoners of war or hostages. The Red Cross continued to have limited access to detainees imprisoned by either side of the conflict in 2022, eight months after the conflict between Russia and Ukraine had continued.
Nevertheless, the fact that there is no set playbook in the case of hostages during times of conflict, as well as no specific timeline for reporting whether they are dead or alive, leaves the family members with very little to cling to as the days slowly pass.
In an interview with NBC News, Abigail Idan’s great-aunt, Liz Hirsh Naftali, described how the little girl, who was only three years old at the time, saw Hamas gunmen shooting and killing her mother on October 7. She then fled with her father and two brothers.
The pictures of the captives are posted everywhere on posters that declare them “KIDNAPPED,” and activists have begun an aggressive campaign inside Israel to urge that the Red Cross swiftly take action in response to the situation.
In a video that was uploaded on X, which was previously known as Twitter, this week, Cardon Christian, the chief protection officer for the Red Cross, provided an explanation as to why the organization continues to preserve its objectivity.
He did, however, understand the ambiguity that contributes to the dissatisfaction of individuals who are thirsty for information, and he said that the organization does not always rule out the possibility of condemning the activities of either side.