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Human Rights Watch Demands Hamas Allow Shalit to Speak

Human Rights Watch said that Hamas has "no excuse" for not allowing Gilad Shalit speak with his family.
By Avraham Zuroff
First Publish: 6/25/2009, 7:25 AM

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Hamas authorities have no excuse for cutting off Shalit from his family and the outside world for three years.
"Hamas authorities should immediately allow Sgt. Gilad Shalit of Israel to communicate with his family and to receive visits from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)," Human Rights Watch said Wednesday, a day before the third anniversary of his captivity. "Hamas's prolonged incommunicado detention of Shalit is cruel and inhuman and may amount to torture," Human Rights Watch said.

The civil rights organizaiton, which often targets Israel for alleged violations of human rights, has rarely mentioned the plight of Shalit since he was abducted by terrorists three years ago today.

Hamas authorities are obligated by the laws of war to allow Shalit to correspond with his family, but during his three years of captivity, Hamas has passed on only three letters he has written and a voice recording. Neither Shalit's family nor the ICRC have been permitted to visit him.

"Hamas authorities have no excuse for cutting off Shalit from his family and the outside world for three years," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director of the human rights watchdog group. "Punishing Shalit for grievances against Israel is unjust and unlawful."

Officials from the Hamas terrorist organization have repeatedly insisted that they will return Shalit only in return for Israel's release of hundreds of Palestinian Authority terrorists, including those with “blood on their hands” who have killed Israeli civilians. Repeated efforts at negotiating between Hamas and Israel have failed. Last month, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal told reporters in Kuwait that Israel was trying to "manipulate" Hamas to reduce its demands.

On June 16, another Hamas leader, Mahmoud Zahar, said Hamas would consider giving Shalit a letter from his parents conveyed by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. However, Hamas later denied it received a letter, and the terrorist organization continues to reject requests by the Red Cross to visit Shalit and to carry messages to and from his family.

On June 25, 2006, Palestinian Authority terrorists based in Gaza raided an IDF outpost inside Israel, near the Kerem Shalom crossing, killing two Israeli soldiers and capturing Shalit, who then held the rank of corporal. A fourth soldier was severely wounded. Hamas, the de facto governing authority in Gaza, has held Shalit captive since that time. According to news reports, Shalit received medical treatment for a shoulder injury and a broken hand sustained during the attack.

Human Rights Watch notes that the laws of war prohibit cruel and inhuman treatment of persons in custody. They also require a party to a conflict to permit persons deprived of their liberty to correspond with their families and consider in good faith and not arbitrarily refuse a request by the Red Cross to visit detainees.