Free the Hostages – Petition to the International Red CrossThursday 12/10/2023



A coalition of 50 organizations urge the ICRC to verify the status of more than 150 Israelis kidnapped and taken to the Gaza Strip

In the wake of Hamas’ barbaric rampage through the civilian communities of southern Israel, the Jerusalem Institute of Justice, an Israeli human rights NGO, led a coalition of 50 organizations in urging the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to verify the status of the 150+ Israeli hostages taken into captivity in Gaza. 

“Hamas has openly advertised its penchant for torturing, raping, denying medical treatment, degrading, humiliating, and threatening to execute these hostages,” said Uri Morad, Director of International Law & Public Diplomacy for the Jerusalem Institute of Justice (JIJ). “The International Red Cross must act urgently to locate and establish communication with the kidnapped Israelis if it has any hope of fulfilling its mission and bringing an end to this war.” 

In a joint letter, JIJ advocacy efforts were joined by prominent Israeli, North American, and European organizations who are committed to countering anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias, including the Anti-Defamation League, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, NGO Monitor, Middle East Forum, and StandWithUs. The group also included several Jewish and Christian communities, including the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, Israel Christian Nexus, and numerous diaspora synagogues. 

Specifically, the coalition urged the International Red Cross to take the following steps: 

  • Locate and establish communication with the Israelis held hostage in the Gaza Strip.
  • Call for Hamas to cease its heinous acts of raping and sexually abusing Israelis.
  • Condemn the use of human shields as military targets, including hospitals and schools, and the horrifying practice of exhibiting and mutilating dead bodies.
  • Facilitate the immediate return of the Israeli hostages.

“This past week constitutes the worst time in Jewish history since the Holocaust, a time when the International Red Cross was, by its own admission, ‘impotent’ in the face of Nazi persecution and genocide,” said Flavia Sevald, CEO of JIJ. “In today’s war, the perpetrators may have changed, but their agenda is the same. The International Red Cross has a double duty to get it right this time.” 

The coalition urges the ICRC to locate the hostages, demand Hamas cease raping and abusing them, condemn using human shields, and facilitate the hostages’ return to Israel. Lives hang in the balance.

The ICRC has a duty to act now to prevent further torture, rape, and murder of innocents. Sign and share this critical petition so that together, we can pressure the ICRC to pressure Hamas to #FreeTheHostages.

Jerusalem Institute of Justice (JIJ) is the only Israeli human rights NGO with consultative status before the United Nations that is pro-Israel. Within the international community, JIJ has persistently advocated for the release of Israeli citizens from captivity. Within Israel, JIJ provides free legal aid to minority ethnic and religious groups, with a track record of 25 precedent-setting victories in the Israeli Supreme Court. 


Dear International Red Cross, 

We, the undersigned, express our profound concerns regarding the current atrocities perpetrated by Hamas and other terrorist organizations within Israel. We respectfully urge the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to act in accordance with its mandate to prevent the ongoing breaches of International Humanitarian Law (IHL).

Commencing from the morning of Saturday, 7th October, Hamas and other terrorists affiliated with various extremist groups from the Gaza Strip have infiltrated Israeli territory, resulting in the mass murder and abduction of hundreds of civilians and soldiers. This ongoing terrorist assault represents a blatant and persistent violation of human rights and international humanitarian law, including customary law and Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions.

The data regarding this ongoing conflict is both alarming and unequivocal, resulting in the tragic loss of over 1,300 innocent lives and the abduction of more than 150 Israelis, including women, children, the elderly, and other individuals granted special protection under IHL. These abductions were carried out violently within their homes. Moreover, more than 3,000 individuals have sustained injuries. Notably, over 5,000 rockets have been indiscriminately launched towards Israeli citizens from the Gaza Strip, a clear violation of fundamental IHL rules. Evidence is also emerging of a pattern of gross human rights violations, including torture, dismemberment, beheadings, the use of rape as a weapon of war, and the desecration of victims’ dead bodies and the use of the abducted as human shields.

The ICRC was established precisely to safeguard and assist victims of armed conflicts and ensure compliance with IHL. As part of its mission, the ICRC is obligated to actively contribute to the application of the law in armed conflict scenarios.

In light of this, we respectfully request that the ICRC undertake the following actions, integral to its mandate, to protect the rights of those being abducted, injured, killed, and targeted by Hamas and other terrorist groups:

  • Locate and establish communication with kidnapped Israelis:
    • Locate and establish communication with the Israelis held hostage in the Gaza Strip, ensuring their treatment and living conditions align with IHL. 1.
  • Enforce compliance with IHL by Hamas and other terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip, specifically:
    • Cease the murder of civilians and soldiers.
    • Halt the indiscriminate launching of missiles and rockets.
    • Stop targeting civilians and groups protected under IHL.
    • Cease the heinous acts of raping and sexually abusing Israelis.
    • End the use of human shields to cover military targets, including buildings such as hospitals and schools.
    • Put an immediate stop to the horrifying practice of exhibiting and mutilating the bodies of those murdered by them.
    • Return Israeli hostages taken into the Gaza Strip, including Hadar Goldin, Oron Shaul, Avera Mengistu, and Isham Al-Sayed. 1.

We are aware of the recent statement issued by the ICRC and we trust that, in line with its mission and commitment to humanity and IHL, the ICRC will urgently and effectively address these critical matters to alleviate the suffering and uphold the rights of those affected by this outrageous situation.

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