Rights groups to Hamas: Allow Red Cross to Schalit

Twelve Israeli, Palestinian, int'l rights groups issue joint statement slamming illegal conditions under which Hamas is holding Schalit.

June 24, 2011 09:19
2 minute read.
Captured soldier Gilad Schalit in video

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


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Ahead of the fifth anniversary of IDF soldier Gilad Schalit's kidnapping at the hands of Hamas terrorists, 12 human rights organizations called for an immediate end to Hamas's "inhumane and illegal treatment" of the soldier.

Slamming the lack of communication Schalit has with his family or information about his well-being and conditions, the groups stressed that Hamas's conduct is "inhumane and a violation of international humanitarian law," and demanded that the International Committee of Red Cross be granted access to the captive soldier.

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In its own statement, Amnesty International called on Hamas to allow the Red Cross to visit Schalit. "We hope that Gilad soon returns to his family," General Secretary of Amnesty Israel Rachel Benziman said. "Until his release, Hamas is obliged [to fulfill] its obligation of ensuring that Gilad is granted personal contact and to provide him with the rights he is entitled to under international law. As such, Hamas must allow representatives of the Red Cross to visit [him]."

To mark the fifth year of Schalit's captivity, the organization said in a press release, Amnesty 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.

International Committee of the Red Cross in Israel spokesman Ran Goldstein told Israel Radio on Friday that his organization has been in dialogue with Hamas for the past five years about the case and conditions of Gilad Schalit's captivity.

The organization has spoken with Hamas both in the Gaza Strip as well as various other locations, Goldstein said, in an attempt to convince the Gaza-based group to allow it access to the IDF soldier and to allow contact between Schalit and his family. He noted that the ICRC is more concerned about Schalit today more than ever, which led it to make public statements ahead of the fifth anniversary of his captivity.

Among the other groups that signed the joint statement - separate from the Amnesty petition - were: Human Rights Watch; B'Tselem – The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories; Bimkom: Planners for Planning Rights; Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement;  International Federation for Human Rights; Palestinian Center for Human Rights; Gaza Physicians for Human Rights – Israel; The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel; Rabbis for Human Rights; The Association for Civil Rights in Israel; and Yesh Din – Volunteers for Human Rights. Hamas has rejected all calls regarding Schalit and the Red Cross.

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