Governments 'not given proof of life of Hamas's hostages' – Tánaiste
Cillian Sherlock, PA
Tánaiste Micheál Martin said humanitarian workers have not been able to provide governments with the proof of life of any hostages believed to be held by Hamas, including nine-year-old Irish-Israeli Emily Hand.
Mr Martin said the Irish Government continues to work with Israeli and Egyptian authorities to get the remaining Irish citizens and their dependents out of Gaza.
Speaking to reporters in Dublin, he said: “The International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent have not had access to the hostages, I understand, in terms of verification and proof of life of any hostage – and that obviously remains a matter of deep anxiety for the families of all involved.”
He added: “Ordinarily, in theatres of conflict or wars they would get access to prisoners of war camps, for example.”
Mr Martin said there has been no further information with respect to any individual hostage, adding: “Not least Emily Hand.”
Asked about the release of bodies, he said there has been “no indication of that yet”.
However, he said “the bones of an agreement” on the release of hostages by Hamas exists.
“We want all hostages released. We have raised the case of Emily Hand with all of the key governments and agencies which may have influence and channels with people who could affect the release of hostages and particularly Emily Hand,” Mr Martin said.
“We have prioritised the release of children and older people and that is our focus. I hope and I pray that Emily Hand will be freed along with other hostages.”
He added: “We know that the bones of an agreement is there. I think what we’re all waiting for now is the realisation of it and the release of hostages.”
Mr Martin also described the recent vandalism of the Department of Foreign Affairs building as a “criminal act”.
He said diplomats had done “extraordinary work” to get 51 Irish citizens and their dependents out of Gaza through the Rafah crossing so far.
“Why you would attack the Department of Foreign Affairs is simply beyond me,” he said.
Mr Martin said “the majority” of Irish citizens have left Gaza, but some are not “in a position” to leave due to personal circumstances.