The World Health Organization (WHO) issued a statement on Wednesday, urging the prompt release of all individuals held in captivity by the Palestinian group Hamas. The WHO expressed deep concern for the well-being of these hostages.
The call was made by WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus following his discussions with the Israeli non-governmental organization the Hostages and Missing Families Forum, which represents families of those abducted, according to a statement released by the organization.
The WHO also asked for urgent access to each hostage and the delivery of medical care.
“We met today with families of people abducted from southern Israel on 7 October and heard firsthand the tragedy, trauma and suffering they are facing,” Tedros said in the statement.
“There is an urgent need for the captors of the hostages to provide signs of life, proof of provision of healthcare, and the immediate release, on humanitarian and health grounds, of all those abducted.”
Noting that many of the hostages have pre-existing health conditions requiring urgent and sustained care and treatment, he said the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) should be granted immediate access to the hostages to understand their health status.
“All civilians who are suffering in this conflict must be protected,” he said.
The conflict in Gaza began when Hamas initiated Operation Al-Aqsa Flood — a multi-pronged surprise attack that included a barrage of rocket launches and infiltrations into Israel by land, sea and air.
It said the incursion was in retaliation for the storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque and growing violence by Israeli settlers against Palestinians.
The Israeli military then launched a relentless bombardment of Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip.
More than 7,900 people have been killed in the conflict, including at least 6,546 Palestinians and 1,400 Israelis.
Gaza’s 2.3 million residents have been running out of food, water, medicine and fuel, and aid convoys allowed into Gaza have carried only a fraction of what is needed.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who was “shocked by the misinterpretations” of his remarks at the Security Council about Israel, reiterated his appeal for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire to “ease suffering, make the delivery of aid easier and safer, and facilitate the release of hostages.”