Representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross recently met with Hamas head Khaled Mashaal in Damascus about kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit, Channel 10 reported on Monday.
The ICRC representatives tried to persuade Mashaal to furnish a sign of life from Schalit before Pessah, according to the report. The last sign of life to be released by Hamas came in a video clip in September 2009.
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Unlike in the past, Mashaal did not reject the request and promised to examine the matter.
The ICRC visit was apparently prompted by the persistent pressure exerted on it by the Schalit family in the five years since Gilad’s capture, which was ramped up recently.
Unlike previously, when the Schalits and activists working for Gilad’s release refrained from criticizing the Red Cross, activists recently demanded that ICRC representatives stop visiting Hamas prisoners in Israeli prisons until the Schalit family receives a sign of life from Gaza.
The activists, Gilad’s grandfather Zvi Schalit told Channel 10, threatened to blockade the ICRC’s Tel Aviv offices if the organization continued to visit imprisoned Hamas members.
Yoel Schalit, Gilad’s older brother, gave a letter to the Red Cross in September of last year, in the hope that the organization would be able to pass it on to his brother.
He visited the Red Cross headquarters in Geneva and handed the letter to head of Middle East operations for the Red Cross, Beatrice Roggo.