Noam and Aviva Schalit urged the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva to pressure Hamas to free their son from captivity in Gaza.
"Insist that Hamas releases our son," said Naom in an English statement that he read to the council at the start of the portion of its deliberations that dealt with statements by non-governmental organizations.
His wife Aviva sat quietly by his side. They had flown to Geneva from Israel to participate in a council debate that dealt largely with Israel's failure to comply with the recommendations of the UNHRC's fact finding mission into Israel's military incursion into Gaza in January 2009. But the report, authored by South African jurist Richard Goldstone, also called on Hamas to immediately free Gilad Schalit. Until such a release, the report called for the IDF soldier to be treated as a prisoner of war which meant that he would be allowed visits by the International Red Cross and to be able to communicate with his family.
"Justice Goldstone was clear with respect to Gilad and his recommendations are of immediate effect. He called for Gilad to receive visits from the Red Cross. He called for Gilad to be allowed to communicate with us – his parents. He called for Gilad’s release," Noam told the Council.
"Hamas has done none of these things despite telling this Human Rights Council that they hold Gilad in accordance with the 3rd Geneva Convention," said Noam.
His son, he said, was kidnapped on June 25, 2006 from Israel's southern border, in an area which is considered by the international community as a legal part of the State of Israel.
"Wounded, he was forced at gunpoint into Gaza. Today, almost 4 years later, he remains the prize captive of Hamas - a bargaining chip for the release of prisoners," said Noam.
"No one knows if he is healthy. No one knows where he is being held. He is denied the light of day. He is denied his basic human rights," Noam continued.
He went on to say that he and his wife were not politicians or representatives of the Israeli government. But he said they had the support of the European Union and the UN Secretary General.
"We speak with the support of civilized nations which condemn
kidnapping and extortion," said Noam. "We call on all of you who
endorse the Goldstone Report, to prove your sincerity."
that Hamas is true to its word. Insist – for if you do not – you fail
not just us. You fail yourselves," Noam Schalit added.
While in Geneva, the couple also plan to speak with the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights Navi Pillay.
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