US Middle East envoy George Mitchell accused Hamas of “unacceptable and inhuman behavior” with regard to captive soldier Gilad Schalit, who has been held in Gaza for the last four years.
“We call for his immediate release,” said Mitchell.
He spoke to reporters during a visit to the Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza, near where Gilad was kidnapped at age 19 as he patrolled the border in that area.
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“We are standing near the place that Gilad Schalit was kidnapped, four years ago,” Mitchell said.
“We condemn his captivity and the conditions in which he is held,” said Mitchell, adding that the Red Cross should be allowed to visit Schalit.
Throughout Gilad’s captivity, Hamas has not allowed anyone to visit him, including the Red Cross.
His comments came as Gilad’s parents, Noam and Aviva, are in the midst
of an 11-day trek from their Mitzpe Hila home in the Upper Galilee
toward Jerusalem, where they intend to sit in a tent opposite the prime
minister’s residence until their son is released.
On Wednesday, the fourth day of the trek, they set out from Kibbutz
Yagur and headed to Zichron Yaakov. On Thursday they will continue on
Along the way they have been joined by thousands of marchers.
Noam said Wednesday, “There is no doubt that the nation decided that
Gilad belongs at home. The nation actually decided it a while ago, but
only now is it being expressed through people’s feet.”
Speaking at the graduation of an IDF training class, Defense Minister
Ehud Barak said that Israel has a “moral obligation to return [Gilad]
to his home. I promise that we will do everything that is responsible
and within our power” to free him.