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Tuesday, 28 June 2011

A letter to all Members of the Scottish Parliament re Gilad Shalit

Dear MSPs,
Gilad Shalit
I respectfully draw your attention to the continuing detention of Israeli Defence Forces soldier, Gilad Shalit.
On June 25, 2011 Staff Sgt Shalit completed his fifth year of being held incommunicado by terrorist factions in Gaza. He was abducted from Israel and imprisoned by Hamas, the Islamist terrorist group—so recognised by many countries—in current control of Gaza. During the abduction, two of Gilad’s comrades, Lt Hanan Barak and Staff Sgt Pavel Slutzker both aged 20, were murdered.
Throughout these five years Gilad has been denied any visit by the International Red Cross or by any other agency indicating concern for his welfare.
On June 23 this year the Islamist group abruptly dismissed the International Red Cross request for proof that Gilad Shalit was still alive. In an unusual public appeal, the independent aid agency insisted on the right under international humanitarian law for Gilad Shalit’s family to have some communication with their 24-year-old son, held without contact since his capture on June 25, 2006.
"Because there has been no sign of life from Mr. Shalit 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 Shalit in custody.
"The total absence of information concerning Mr Shalit is completely unacceptable," ICRC Director-General Yves Daccord said in a statement.
"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."
In a separate statement issued on June 23, the ICRC also urged Israel to allow relatives of Palestinian detainees from Gaza to visit them in custody in Israel. Such visits were suspended in June 2007 in a move which the ICRC said contravened international humanitarian law and had prevented more than 700 families from seeing their detained relatives over the past four years.
"There is no reciprocity between the situation of Gilad Shalit and people detained by Israel. Both sides have obligations, independent of what the other side is doing" said Schaerer.
Shalit is not considered a prisoner of war, as he was seized by an armed group rather than by forces of a state that has ratified the Third Geneva Convention. However, like all other detainees captured in conflict, he is entitled to humane treatment under the Geneva Conventions, according to the ICRC.
Gilad Shalit’s situation remains unchanged and unacceptable.
Representing members and supporters of Scottish Friends of Israel, many of whom reside within your area of responsibility, I ask you to lend your voice in support of the International Red Cross demand "that Hamas prove that he (Gilad) is alive."
Yours faithfully,
Stanley Grossman                                                                                                                                                                                             Hon Secretary                                                                                                                                                                                                              Scottish Friends of Israel

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