FAMILIES OF Hamas's hostages are seen a the Knesset, on December 25, 2023. (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
The governments of Germany and Hungary have approved citizenship and issued passports to Jewish Israeli hostages in Gaza, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
Some of the hostages who received German and Hungarian passports were freed in exchange for Israel’s release of convicted Palestinian terrorists and criminals. Other Jewish Israeli hostages who have received Hungarian and German citizenship and are still being held hostage, the Post was told in an exclusive interview.
The Israelis who received passports have family members who were born in the Central European countries.
Dual citizenship could play a role in the complex negotiations to rescue the hostages because of the intervention of foreign states seeking to protect their citizens. It is unclear when the hostages were provided with the German and Hungarian passports. According to the authorities, there are 136 Israeli hostages in Gaza.
Foreign countries that issue passports to hostages in Gaza could provide a layer of protection to the victims. For example, Sweden in 2018 awarded citizenship to Iranian hostage Ahmadreza Djalali, a medical doctor and lecturer at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.
People protest calling for the government to find a solution to have the hostages released, outside Hakirya Base (Military Defense Headquarters) in Tel Aviv, January 4, 2024. (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90)
Israel, Germany, Hungary all declined to comment
Djalali was arrested in 2016 in Iran and later convicted of espionage, in what was widely condemned as a show trial. He has not been executed, and it is unclear if his Swedish citizenship is impeding Tehran’s desire to execute him.
On November 8, Hamas was holding hostages from at least 28 countries.
Asked about European countries awarding Israeli Jews passports, a spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry told the Post: “We will not comment on this.”
The German Foreign Ministry declined to comment as well. Hungary’s Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a Post press query.
In late October, Fox News reported about American organizations urging Germany, Austria, and the US to issue passports to hostages.
Austria and Germany “should do what Raoul Wallenberg and others did during World War II,” Yigal Carmon, president and founder of the Washington, DC-based Middle East Media Research Institute, told Fox News. “Now it is the time that the governments should be Wallenberg and save Jews because Hamas said they will only release hostages with double citizenships.”
Wallenberg was a Swedish diplomat who saved the lives of at least 20,000 Hungarian Jews during the Holocaust. He issued “protective passports” to the Jews who were identified as Swedish subjects to be repatriated.
“The idea of issuing emergency citizenship and passports to hostages is not just a good idea for Germany and Austria, but is one that other nations, including the United States, should explore immediately,” Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt told Fox News at the time. “It is a moral imperative to utilize every tool in the toolbox to get these hostages out of the hands of Hamas terrorists and to safety.”
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean and director of global social action at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told Fox News: “Every effort must be made to release innocent Israelis taken captive by Hamas. While the European Union meets to discuss the so-called humanitarian pause, Germany and Austria should work to strengthen their show of support for Israel and grant dual citizenship as soon as possible.”
The Wiesenthal Center, which was named after legendary Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal, said Hamas “announced they will deal separately with Israelis who have joint citizenship.”
Source: The Jerusalem Post