The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been handed a letter to deliver to Gilad Shalit, who is being held hostage in Gaza. The only problem is that the ICRC has never had access to the kidnapped IDF soldier.
In fact, no one has access – except the Hamas terrorists who abducted him together with two other terror groups in June 2006.
Gilad’s older brother Yoel delivered the letter to Beatrice Roggo, head of Middle East Operations, at the agency’s headquarters in Geneva on Tuesday. The older Shalit said he is hoping the agency might nevertheless be able to pass the letter on to his brother.
Hamas, which rules Gaza with an iron fist, has flatly refused to allow Red Cross visits to Shalit, in violation of international law. A spokesman for the terrorist group told an Arabic-language newspaper in June that Hamas fears the contact might encourage Israel to carry out a raid to free the soldier from his captivity.
Shalit was abducted in a cross-border raid on an IDF outpost near the Kerem Shalom crossing with Gaza carried out by operatives from Hamas, together with the Palestinian Resistance Committees and Army of Islam terror groups, on June 25, 2006. In addition to Shalit’s abduction, two soldiers were killed and another was seriously wounded.
Numerous attempts at negotiations with the terrorists for prisoner exchange deals have failed, and with the exception of two tapes released over the past two years, Hamas has released no signs of life. Egypt recently released a Hamas operative who, it is claimed, knows where Shalit is being kept.
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter was one of those who attempted to secure information about the soldier, and failed. In April 2008, Carter met in Damascus with Hamas political bureau chief Khaled Mashaal, but was unable to persuade him to allow the Red Cross to visit the soldier.
Carter followed up with a visit to the region in June 2009 during which he again met with Mashaal and also traveled to Gaza, bringing with him a letter for the abducted soldier, written by his family. Carter had no information for the family about Shalit following the 2009 talks, either.
The 85-year-old former president had allegedly planned another visit to Gaza together with former U.S. President Bill Clinton in another attempt to free Shalit. The trip was allegedly discussed over the summer during talks between the U.S., Egypt and Hamas, according to media reports.
However, Carter was admitted Tuesday night to a Cleveland hospital with stomach pains after becoming ill on a flight during a speaking tour for a new book. A spokesman for the elderly former president, who turns 86 in a few days, said he was resting comfortably and that he expects to return to his speaking tour next week.
The kidnapped soldier’s condition and whereabouts remain unknown.