Red Cross can't visit captured troops

Jewish students, soldiers' relatives rally in Brussels for troops' release.

ICRC (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
The International Red Cross admitted on Wednesday it has been unable to visit the three IDF soldiers kidnapped this summer and that it knows nothing regarding their fate. Asked whether the International Committee of the Red Cross knew whether the three were still alive, spokeswoman Dorothea Krimitsas said, "We have not been able to visit them, and we don't have any other information about them." Family members of the kidnapped soldiers lobbied European parliamentarians in Brussels on Wednesday to help the release of the three young men. Outside the parliament building, thousands of Jews from across Europe rallied in a show of solidarity organized in part by the Jewish Agency and the World Zionist Organization. "We came only to ask for a sign of life," said Karnit Goldwasser, whose husband, Ehud, was abducted by Hizbullah on July 12. "It is four-and-a-half months since I have been going to sleep alone. My husband is in my veins. We cannot and will not lose hope," she told a press conference. "We want the whole world to raise their voice and to let the whole world know that you are standing behind us," she said. Ehud's mother, Miki, said, "I expect any European leader who can help us to do so immediately. The delicate political situation in Lebanon and Gaza is enhancing the danger for their lives with every day that goes by. We are willing to meet anyone who can help us bring Udi [Ehud Goldwasser], Eldad [Regev] and Gilad [Shalit] home." Regev's brother, Eyal, told reporters, "We are still hoping that they are safe. But Hizbullah does not let us know anything." Regev was taken along with Goldwasser on July 12. Noam Shalit, whose son, Gilad, was kidnapped by Hamas near Gaza on June 25, said, "The Israeli government is ready to release many prisoners for my son. But Hamas is not willing to compromise and be flexible." Family members, who wrapped up their two-day trip on Wednesday, found a sympathetic ear in the chairman of the Belgian parliament, Herman De Croo, who is a friend of his Lebanese counterpart, Nabih Berri, a Hizbullah ally. De Croo promised to take the matter up with Berri. Swedish EU parliamentarian Gunnar H kmark called on Hizbullah and Hamas to release the soldiers. "We European friends of Israel will see that this issue is highlighted in the Parliament and in the member states. This is above all a humanitarian issue," he said. "As we all know, Europe is involved in the Middle East," said Hokmark, who is president of European Friends of Israel. "It's important that the European Union contribute to the solution of this issue because it is to be seen as a step forward in the peace process that we all long for," he said. On Tuesday, the family members met with the Red Cross. They were frustrated by the lack of information and the inability of the Red Cross to pass on letters to the kidnapped men. Speaking of the meeting, Krimitsas said, "All our efforts are aimed at allowing the captured soldiers to be able to establish contact with their families." Asked whether the ICRC had asked Hamas and Hizbullah for access to the soldiers, Krimitsas said, "We are in a continuous dialogue... We are also in contact with all the parties on the ground." The ICRC "has offered its services and it is working hard now to continue to pursue the dialogue and persuasion efforts with all the parties to ensure that the soldiers can establish contact with their families," she said. Dafydd Ab Lago in Brussels and AP contributed to his report.