The President of the Red Cross traveled to Qatar to meet with Palestinian Hamas leader Ismaïl Haniyeh to discuss humanitarian issues related to the armed conflict in Israel and Gaza. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) confirmed the meeting in a statement, noting that President Mirjana Spoljaric also met with the authorities of Qatar during her visit.
Ismaïl Haniyeh, head of the Hamas political bureau, was the architect of Hamas’ electoral victory in 2006 in the Gaza Strip and has also served as Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority. The visit comes as Qatar mediates to obtain the release of Israeli hostages held in the Gaza Strip.
The ICRC stated that the visit is part of efforts to improve respect for international humanitarian law and to facilitate direct discussions with all parties involved. The ICRC also emphasized the need for their teams to be authorized to visit the hostages in order to ensure their well-being and the administration of medication.
The Israeli military estimates that around 240 people were taken hostage in the Gaza Strip during Hamas’ attack on Israeli territory, with around 1,200 deaths in Israel predominantly among civilians. The ongoing conflict has resulted in a significant number of casualties in both Israel and the Gaza Strip.