Tuesday, Oct. 22
Latest News
  1. Palestinian goverment: 26 million in development of ministries
  2. Rudeineh: Washington us unable to achieve anything by itself
  3. US: “No plan for unilateral annexation by Israel of the West Bank"
  4. Cluster of incendiary balloons land in southern Israel
  5. Palestinian FM condemns Germany's vote to define BDS as 'anti-Semitic'
  6. Israeli forces forcibly evict Muslim worshipers from Al-Aqsa
  7. Israeli forces detain 14-year-old Palestinian near Ramallah
  8. Erekat: Deviation from peace terms of reference doomed to fail
  9. Iceland's Hatari shocks Eurovision with Palestinian flags
  10. UNRWA: 4 Palestinian children killed in attack on Syria refugee camp

Palestinian, Israeli groups demand Shalit information

June 24, 2011 11:08 A.M. (Updated: June 29, 2011 5:48 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israeli, Palestinian and international human rights groups issued a joint statement on Friday demanding that Gaza militants end the "inhumane" treatment of an Israeli soldier they hold captive.

The declaration, signed by Israeli group B'Tselem, the Gaza-based Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and eight others, comes as Israel marks the fifth anniversary of the capture of Gilad Shalit by three groups, including the current ruling party in Gaza, Hamas.

"Those holding him have refused to allow him to communicate with his family, nor have they provided information on his well-being and the conditions in which he is being held," the statement said in English, Arabic and Hebrew. "This conduct is inhumane and a violation of international humanitarian law."

"Hamas authorities in Gaza must immediately end the cruel and inhuman treatment of Gilad Shalit," it added. "Until he is released, they must enable him to communicate with his family and should grant him access to the International Committee of the Red Cross."

In a message accompanying the statement, B'Tselem pointed out that its wording represented a consensus between groups with disparate views on the Shalit case.

"The organizations take a variety of positions on the issue," it wrote. "Some call for the immediate release of Shalit, while others support a prisoner swap."

"Some of the organizations have not made any statements until today. It is therefore particularly significant that the organizations have united around a joint message."

An Israeli spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross, Ran Goldstein, told Israeli public radio that the organization has been in contact with Hamas over the five year period which the soldier has been held captive.

"Our main option is covert dialogue and that's what we've been doing for five years in the case of Gilad Shalit, whether in Gaza or elsewhere, meeting senior Hamas officials with the aim of getting access to Gilad Shalit and also in an attempt to persuade them to let him contact his family," he said.

Hamas swiftly dismissed the appeal. Party spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters that the Red Cross "should not get involved in Israeli security games aimed at reaching Shalit. It should take a stand that results in ending the suffering of Palestinian prisoners."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday evening that in response to Hamas' continuing refusal to allow Red Cross visits to Shalit he had instructed the Israel Prisons Service to curtail privileges granted to Palestinian militant inmates.

"I'm not going to detail the measures, but I can tell you the party's over," Netanyahu said in a speech at an international conference in Jerusalem.

"I would like to give one example: I have stopped the absurd procedure whereby terrorists in Israeli prisons for murdering innocents can sign up for academic studies. There will be no more masters degrees in murder or doctors of terrorism," he said.

Netanyahu said Israel would take a number of steps to limit prisoners' conditions, and that Israel was required to observe international and Israeli law but no more, according to Israeli daily Haaretz.

Goldstein responded to the statement by saying that the Israeli Red Cross will first study details of the changes before speaking with the relevant Israeli authorities.

Shalit was 19 when he was captured in southern Israel on June 25, 2006, by militants who staged a cross-border raid from the Gaza Strip. He has been held ever since at a secret location there.

Talks to negotiate the Israeli soldier's release have hinged on the release of 1,000 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails, as well as an easing of the blockade on the coastal strip.

Israel has refused to allow prisoners to return to their homes in the West Bank. According to latest figures from the Palestinian Authority, there are 6,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

In June 2007, the Israeli authorities announced the suspension of family visits for Palestinians from Gaza who were being held in Israel. According to the ICRC, in the past four years, over 700 families from Gaza have been prevented from seeing their detained relatives.

The ICRC has also issued calls on Israel to facilitate family visits for Gaza families, subject to the country's blockade on the enclave, to pass into Israel and visit their relatives. Many Gaza families have been prevented from seeing their husbands, sons and daughters for more than a decade, when restrictions on travel were put in place during the First Intifada.

According to the ICRC, in 2010, some 124,000 family members from the West Bank were assisted in carrying out visits their relatives in Israeli jails. Without ICRC support, many would have been prohibited from carrying out the visits.

Ma'an staff writers contributed to this report
Most Read
Powered By: HTD Technologies
Ma'an News Agency
All rights reserved © 2005-2015