Noam Shalit to Testify Before UN Gaza Probe
A committee established by the U.N. and the Hague International Court to review allegations of war crimes during Operation Cast Lead will hear testimony Monday from Noam Shalit, the father of captive soldier Gilad Shalit.
Shalit is expected to demand that his son's kidnapping be recognized as a war crime. Gilad was kidnapped after his patrol near Gaza was attacked by Hamas terrorists three years ago.
"The abduction of my son Gilad for trade and bargaining purposes as hostage, and preventing any connection with the outer world for three years during which he is being held in captivity, is a blatant violation of international treaties," he is expected to state before the committee in Geneva, Switzerland.
According to the Committee to Free Shalit, Noam will accuse the Hamas terror group of violating Shalilt’s human rights by keeping him cut off and isolated, unable to receive visits from the Red Cross international relief organization or establish contact with his family for three years. For the past year, the family has received no sign that their son is alive.
The group said that Shalit will also appeal to Arabs living in Gaza and say, "Your leadership is [also] holding you...hostage for the past three years, all because of the unwillingness to reach an exchange deal which will secure my son's release."
The fact-finding team, headed by Judge Richard Goldstone, was established in May to collect testimonies and investigate allegations of war crimes committed during the anti-terror operation in Gaza earlier this year.
Israel officially refuses to cooperate with the committee, which it claims lacks objectivity. "They won't check the other side and won't investigate the series of terror incidents throughout the years, including the firing of rockets on Israel's citizens. This is not a committee which will reach an unbiased conclusion, and therefore I don’t think we'll cooperate with this investigation,” said Defense Minister Ehud Barak, citing Israel’s previous experience with investigation committees operating in the region.
Barak told U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last month that Israel would not participate yet views “with severity the mandate given to this committee to deal with war crimes.”