Ramallah – Hamas has rejected a request by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to reveal the fate of Israeli soldiers that have gone missing in the movement-controlled Gaza Strip.
Hamas spokesman Abdul Latif al-Qanou said: “The case of Israeli soldier prisoners is in the hands of the movement and it alone takes decisions over this issue.”
“It will not comply with such demands from the Red Cross,” he added.
The ICRC had called on Hamas to respect it commitments to International Humanitarian Law in regards to its Israeli soldiers. It had demanded that the movement submit a report on their fate.
Head of the ICRC delegation in Israel Jacques de Maio said that regardless if the prisoners were civilians or soldiers, they are all protected by International Humanitarian Law.
“The fate of the people who were imprisoned while they were alive should be known and they should be treated humanely,” he stressed.
He also said that the remains of the deceased should be respected and returned to their loved ones.
The dispute between Hamas and the ICRC comes at a time of tensions between the movement and the United Nations in wake of the discovery of a Hamas tunnel below two UN-schools in Gaza.
The UN Relief and Works Agency condemned these tunnels “in the strongest possible terms,” submitting a complaint to Hamas in Gaza.
No students or staff members will be allowed to enter the schools until the problem is resolved.
UNRWA said that the existence of the tunnels violates all UN privileges and immunities that are granted to it by International Humanitarian Law.
Hamas for its part rejected the UNRWA statement, saying that the movement is not performing any “resistance operations” near the schools.
It stressed that Hamas’ policy is based on respecting UNRWA institutions, vital facilities and public institutions and keeping them away from resistance acts.
It condemned the UNRWA claims, saying: “These rumors will be exploited by the Israeli occupation to justify its crimes and encourage it to target civilians.”