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Palestinians pelt Gaza Red Cross office with eggs

June 23, 2011 8:29 P.M. (Updated: June 24, 2011 10:19 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (AFP) -- Palestinians threw eggs at the international Red Cross office in Gaza on Thursday to protest against a call for Hamas to show signs a captured Israeli soldier was still alive.

Dozens of angry protesters also chanted slogans against the International Committee of the Red Cross and ripped down and destroyed the Red Cross sign over the office.

They were protesting over a call earlier on Thursday by the ICRC, demanding that Gaza rulers show proof that Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, captured five years ago, is still alive.

Hamas, while not directly rejecting the Red Cross call, said Shalit would be freed only once Israel released Palestinian prisoners.

"We will only consider resolving the Shalit issue if the issue of Palestinian prisoners in the occupation's prisons is resolved," said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri.

Indirect negotiations between Israel and Hamas for a deal that would see 1,000 Palestinians released in exchange for Shalit have been stalled for over a year.

Shalit, an Israeli soldier, was 19 when he was captured on June 25, 2006, and has not been allowed visits by the Red Cross during his time in captivity.

The last proof Shalit alive was in October 2009 when Hamas released a video of him calling on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to do everything to free him.

"The total absence of information concerning Mr Shalit is completely unacceptable," said Yves Daccord, the ICRC's director general.

"The Shalit family have the right under international humanitarian law to be in contact with their son."

The protest, organized by a Palestinian prisoners organization, said the Red Cross should focus on the plight of the thousands of Palestinians in Israeli jails.

"The world and its Red Cross cry for one Israeli prisoner and try to forget thousands of Palestinian prisoners," one banner said.

The most recent reports from the Palestinian Authority say 6,000 Palestinians are being detained in Israeli prisons, including 219 in Administrative Detention who are held without charge.

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