“Medicine along with other humanitarian aid is to be delivered to civilians in the Gaza Strip, in the most affected and vulnerable areas, in exchange for delivering medication needed for Israeli captives in Gaza,” the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Tuesday in a statement posted on X.
The medications and aid will leave Doha on Wednesday and head to Egypt before being transported to Gaza, the ministry added. It is unclear when the medicines are expected to reach Gaza.
Relatives of the more than 100 remaining hostages believed to be alive in Gaza have been calling for medications to be passed on to their loved ones.
It has been more than three months since Hamas fighters attacked Israel on October 7, killing 1,200 people and taking more than 240 hostage. The Hostages and Missing Families Forum, an advocacy group for the victims’ families, say that each new day in captivity further endangers their lives and health.
At least a third of the hostages have chronic illnesses and require medications, the forum said in a report released last week, adding that “others suffer from illnesses related to the harsh captivity conditions, which include mental and physical torture.”
Severe shortages of medicines and medical supplies in Gaza have led to operations being performed on children without anesthesia, according to UNICEF and a British surgeon who led an emergency medical team at the Al-Aqsa Hospital in central Gaza.
The Qatari announcement comes days after the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office said the director of Israel’s Mossad spy agency, David Barnea, had reached an agreement with Qatar on the delivery of medicines to hostages held by Hamas in Gaza.
Qatar played a key role in brokering an agreement between Hamas and Israel that led to the brief truce in November and the release of more than 100 hostages, as well as hundreds of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which helped facilitate the release of the hostages in November, has been unable to visit the remaining captives in Gaza and does not know where they are, it told CNN.
It is unclear if the Red Cross will help pass the medication to the hostages. Over the weekend, an official familiar with the discussions told CNN that the Red Cross would not have a role in the deliveries.
The medicine is destined for more than 40 hostages thought by Israel to need it, according to the official, who also said that Hamas only agreed to the deal if more medicine was sent to hospitals and Palestinians in Gaza.
Throughout the war, Israel has allowed a limited amount of aid and medicines to enter Gaza but far more is needed, humanitarian groups say. The United Nations has complained that Israel has been rejecting missions to deliver supplies to northern Gaza.
An estimated 1.9 million people, or 85% of Gaza’s population, are now internally displaced, says the UN, while only 15 of the enclave’s hospitals remain operational.