Hamas rejects Red Cross appeal to prove Schalit alive

After ICRC demands Hamas prove kidnapped soldier okay, Abu Zuhri says Red Cross "should not get involved in Israeli security games."

By REUTERS, JPOST.COM STAFF
June 23, 2011 17:45
2 minute read.
Captured soldier Gilad Schalit in video

Gilad Schalit in video 311 (R). (photo credit: Reuters)

 
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Hamas on Thursday dismissed an appeal by the International Committee of the Red Cross to provide proof that kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Schalit is still alive.

"The Red Cross should not get involved in Israeli security games aimed at reaching Schalit. It should take a stand that results in ending the suffering of Palestinian prisoners," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters in Gaza in response to the appeal, which senior ICRC officials said had been transmitted privately to the Islamist group several weeks ago.

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In an unusual public appeal, the independent aid agency said Schalit's family had a right under international humanitarian law to be in contact with their 24-year-old son, held incommunicado since his capture on June 25, 2006.

"Because there has been no sign of life from Mr. Schalit for almost two years, the ICRC is now demanding that Hamas prove that he is alive," the Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said.

The ICRC also reiterated its long-standing request to visit Schalit in custody.

"The total absence of information concerning Mr. Schalit is completely unacceptable," ICRC Director-General Yves Daccord said in a statement.

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"We don't know anything about his conditions of detention. But from information available to us we have serious concerns about his fate," Jean-Pierre Schaerer, head of the ICRC delegation in Israel and the occupied territories, told Reuters.

"He is completely isolated."

The ICRC stands ready to facilitate an exchange of prisoners if Israel and Hamas come to an agreement in their ongoing negotiations, according to Schaerer.

But he added: "There is no reciprocity between the situation of Gilad Schalit and people detained by Israel. Both sides have obligations, independent of what the other side is doing."

"Hamas has an obligation under international humanitarian law to protect Mr. Schalit's life, to treat him humanely and to let him have contact with his family," Daccord said.

A demonstration for Schalit was scheduled to take place outside the Jerusalem International Convention Center on Thursday evening, where Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was expected to speak at the Presidential Conference. Protesters from the organization "Mothers for Gilad" were expected to call on Netanyahu to complete a prisoner exchange deal to bring about the release of the kidnapped soldier.

Schalit's parents Noam and Aviva have said they will spend Friday, the fifth anniversary of his capture, in a tent plastered with signs urging Israeli leaders to bring their son home.

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