Five years in captivity: US demands Schalit's release

Schalit enters 6th year in captivity, Juppe: Schalit is longest-held French hostage; UN chief to Hamas: Provide Schalit family contact with son.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
June 25, 2011 01:42
2 minute read.
Gilad Schalit

Gilad Schalit 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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The United States on Friday called on Hamas to "release [kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit] immediately," criticizing the Gaza group's violation of "international humanitarian demands."

The US joined France, and Ban Ki-moon of the UN Friday calling for the soldier's immediate release on humanitarian grounds, criticizing the groups disregard for a recent International Red Cross call on Hamas to allow Schalit's family contact with their son who is entering his sixth year in captivity on June 25.

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France "has not forgotten Gilad Schalit," French Foreign Affairs Minister Alain Juppe said on Friday in a special communique published on the website of the French Embassy in Israel, a day before the Schalit family marks five years since their son was captured by Hamas.

"On the eve of the sad anniversary of the fifth year of Gilad Schalit's captivity, I want to reiterate that the situation of our compatriot, held in defiance of the most basic principles of international humanitarian law, is unacceptable," Juppe said in the statement. "It is also unique: Gilad Schalit is, today, the French hostage who has been held in captivity the longest."

The French foreign minister added, "We've mobilized our partners and continue to work tirelessly for [Schalit's] release, in coordination with other ongoing mediation efforts."

Paris continues to demand that the Red Cross be allowed to visit Schalit, Juppe said.

"For Gilad Schalit, there is no Arab Spring: The wind of freedom blowing through the region has not reached him. Nobody can be indifferent to the drama he and his family have experienced for nearly five years now.



Earlier this week, 12 human rights organizations called for an immediate end to Hamas's "inhumane and illegal treatment" of the captured soldier.

To mark the fifth year of Schalit's captivity, Amnesty International said in a press release that it is circulating a petition to its activists worldwide demanding that Hamas ease the suffering of Gilad and his family. The petition will be presented to Hamas prime minister in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh.

Secretary General of the UN Ban Ki-moon also called on Friday for the immediate release of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit, pledging continued support of the UN for achieving this goal.

Ban also joined the International Red Cross in calling on Hamas to protect Schalit's life, treat him humanely, prove that he is alive, and provide his family with the ability to have contact with their son.

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