Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said on Tuesday that Hungary’s government remains unaware of any Hungarian citizens having died in Israel, and reports of Hungarian fatalities in the Middle Eastern country have proven to be untrue.
The government knows of five hostages with Hungarian citizenship in Gaza, having been notified recently of another adult hostage, Minister Szijjártó said, according to a ministry statement. He said certain media outlets had blamed the government for having been unaware of the hostages until recently. Minister Szijjártó called for “a minimal degree of fairness”, pointing out that the Hungarian authorities could only be made aware of the hostages if they were notified by the Israeli authorities or relatives. There had been several cases, he said, of entire families being abducted, with no one left to alert the government, until their more distant relatives realized that they had been taken hostage. “But there are also regrettable cases where the entire family of the individual taken hostage died,” he added. “So to expect us, in a situation like this, to be aware of someone having been taken hostage before they notify us, is unfair on the part of certain media outlets, to put it mildly,” Minister Szijjártó said. When lives are in danger, “attempts at such petty political gains, I think, can be considered unworthy, even at this level”, the minister said. The government is in constant contact with the Israeli task force set up to free the hostages, he said, adding that all five Hungarian citizens were included on the list of people the Israeli authorities were trying to free. Minister Szijjártó said he had consulted last Friday with the foreign minister of a third country acting as a mediator between Israel and Hamas and working to have the hostages freed as soon as possible. “They are also aware of all five Hungarians now,” he added. The minister said his counterpart had promised to pay attention to the Hungarian hostages. Meanwhile, Minister Szijjártó noted that the government knows of 15 Hungarian citizens stranded in the Gaza Strip who are unable to leave the area for the time being. The government is in constant contact with them, he said, adding however that this was becoming increasingly difficult because of power and internet connection cut-outs. “We last spoke to all of them yesterday, and they were doing fine. That’s the last update we have on them,” he said. The minister noted that at one point, the Hungarian nationals had managed to pass through two of the three checkpoints towards Egypt, before having to be turned back because of nearby airstrikes. He also noted that he had spoken with his Egyptian counterpart last week, who had told him that the Hungarians would be allowed to enter the country once the security and legal conditions permitted this.