'Red Cross seeking access to Schalit'

US Jewish official says ICRC using public, private diplomacy to reach captive held over 1000 days.

By HAVIV RETTIG GUR
March 25, 2009 03:41
1 minute read.
'Red Cross seeking access to Schalit'

Gilad Schalit 248.88. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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The International Committee of the Red Cross was "continuing its good faith efforts to seek access to and information about [captive IDF soldier] Gilad Schalit," William Daroff, the United Jewish Communities' vice president for public policy, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday. Just hours after meeting with ICRC representatives in Geneva, "where the refusal of Hamas to allow access to the Red Cross was a major area of discussion," Daroff said he was satisfied that Schalit's 1,000-plus days in captivity without access to international humanitarian supervision was not the fault of the ICRC. According to Daroff, "the ICRC has discussed Schalit with Hamas at the highest levels in Gaza and Damascus, and with Hamas's state sponsors. They are using public and private diplomacy to seek access to Schalit. My discussions with Israeli and American officials confirm this very positive view of the ICRC's role." He added that the ICRC had been involved in the matter at least since a September 2007 meeting in Washington between the families of abducted IDF soldiers and Red Cross representatives. "It is contrary to all international norms of decency to refuse Schalit contact with the International Committee of the Red Cross and his family," said Daroff, adding, "The blame should not be cast at the ICRC, but rather with the Hamas terrorists who seized Gilad Schalit." In recent days, negotiations between Israel and Hamas over Schalit's release have stalled, as the two sides could not agree on releasing some 125 terrorists serving Israeli prison sentences for their roles in especially bloody terror attacks. Israel has already agreed to release 325 prisoners whom Hamas requested by name. Schalit spent his 1,000th day in captivity on Saturday.

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