Friday, June 19, 2009

Hamas rejects Red Cross call for Gilad Shalit

The ICRC issued a statement:
Since Mr Shalit's capture in June 2006, the ICRC has repeatedly asked Hamas to allow the exchange of Red Cross messages between Gilad Shalit and his family. The most recent requests were made at the highest level, but these and all others have been refused.

"We welcome the fact that yesterday former US president Jimmy Carter handed Hamas a letter from Gilad Shalit's family to him," said Béatrice Mégevand-Roggo, the ICRC's head of operations for the Middle East and North Africa. "However, this cannot replace the regular and unconditional contacts with his family that Gilad Shalit is entitled to under international humanitarian law. The ICRC regrets that in his case political considerations are judged more important than the simple humanitarian gesture of allowing a captive to be in touch with his family after three years of separation."

Repeated requests by the ICRC to visit Gilad Shalit to ascertain his conditions of detention and treatment have also been refused. Visiting people deprived of their freedom and enabling them to exchange personal news with their relatives is one of the ICRC's main humanitarian tasks.

Ms Megevand-Roggo added that the people holding Gilad Shalit were entirely responsible for ensuring that his treatment and living conditions are humane and dignified.

The ICRC has held several meetings with Gilad Shalit's parents, Noam and Aviva Shalit, to brief them on its efforts regarding their 22-year-old son. "We share their concerns. Despite the lack of progress so far we will continue to press for family contacts for Mr Shalit and for ICRC access to him," said Ms Mégevand-Roggo.
Hamas responded:
The de facto government in Gaza's Ministry of Prisoners' Affairs was astonished on Friday that the International Red Cross has asked Hamas to allow captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit regular contact with his family.

In a statement to Ma'an, the ministry said that the Red Cross' demand came while "Gaza prisoners have been continuously deprived family visits for more than two years, which has negatively affected their living and psychological situation."

"Under what pretext of international law is it that the Red Cross can demand that Hamas allow Shalit to contact his family?" the the de facto government ministry asked. "Did the Red Cross denounce the [Israeli] occupation for its daily violations of international law against Palestinian prisoners, who are deprived from every human right?"

"At the least, stated international conventions demand that the sick aren't denied necessary medical treatment; instead, they die slowly due to medical negligence," the statement went on to say.

The ministry also denounced international organizations' calls for better treatment of "this single Israeli captive," demanding that they show that they "care about the situation of 11,000 Palestinian prisoners, against whom everything is banned and international crimes are committed."

"Israel is continuously bypassing international conventions to legitimize crimes being committed, including the deprivation of visitations, imposing an orange uniform by force and implimenting the 'illegal combatant' law," the statement noted.

The ministry concluded by calling on the international community and human rights organizations to stop so-called double-standard policies that urge Hamas to meet demands concerning Shalit but stop at demanding Israel ease living conditions of its thousands of Palestinian prisoners.
Hamas is employing doubletalk that is even more egregious than usual. As far as I can tell, the Red Cross does not accuse Israel of any violations of prisoners' rights, although they have called for Israel to allow visits from family members.