Thank you, Ambassador Yelchenko. And it is good to be here this morning with all of you and with Dr. Goldin and Professor Cotler.
In May of this year, U.S. Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt met with the Goldin and Shaul families and shared his outrage at Hamas terrorist organization’s callous desire to hold IDF Lieutenant Hadar Goldin and IDF Staff Sergeant Oron Shaul’s remains for political advantage. We share Mr. Greenblatt’s outrage at Hamas’ actions. These families are not alone.
In November, the White House welcomed the Mengistu family and expressed sympathy for the capture of their son, Avraham. Avraham was seized by Hamas three years ago and has been held without the opportunity to contact his family or access medical care. Hamas also continues to hold another Israeli citizen, Hisham al-Sayed, under similar conditions. Hisham entered Gaza seven months after Avraham. Both men reportedly suffer from mental illness.
The United States wishes to commend and convey its deepest sympathies to the Goldin, Shaul, Mengistu and Al-Sayed families for their resilience in the face of Hamas’ actions. We believe that the families are owed updates on the health and status of the prisoners. In both these cases and others in the past, Hamas’ prisoners are treated as bargaining chips. This is against accepted practice and the basic dignity of the prisoners.
The United States renews its call to Hamas to return the IDF soldiers, Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, as well as Israeli civilians Avraham Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, to their families immediately. Today, along with members of the Israeli Mission, our Ukrainian colleagues, and other concerned Member States, we greatly appreciate hearing this morning from Dr. Goldin and Professor Cotler in a few moments on how the international community can work together on solutions to this ongoing tragedy.
Thank you very much, Ambassador.