The Missing and their families must not be forgotten.
Clinging to glimmers of hope that their sons might still be alive, waiting to receive a proof of life and searching for ways to restore contact, are the natural reactions of any parent dwelling in prolonged and ambiguous uncertainty.
This is one of the most ancient codes in the history of war, enshrined in modern International Humanitarian Law (IHL): whether they are combatants who fell in the battlefield or were captured by the adverse party, or civilians taken into captivity, the missing and their families must be treated with humanity and dignity.
Each party to the conflict has unilateral, non-reciprocal obligations under IHL:
All missing persons must be accounted for: information about the fate and whereabouts of missing persons, including proof of life, shall not be used as ‘bargaining chips’.
The remains of those killed during the conflict must be identified, handled with dignity and respect, and ultimately returned to their families.
The ICRC works in a confidential way with the responsible authorities and is in direct contact with the families of the missing. In several meetings held both in Gaza and in Israel and in official letters, the ICRC has reminded the parties of their obligations. As a neutral and impartial intermediary, it has also offered its expert forensic capacity to facilitate the identification of human remains.
The ICRC remains committed to all persons still unaccounted for and their families’ right to know: International Humanitarian Law stands by them.