Red Cross Calls for Shalit Visit

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The International Committee of the Red Cross [ICRC]  issued a rare criticism of the terrorist group Hamas Thursday because the group continually has denied the Red Cross and other western aid organizations access to kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who has been held captive in Gaza by Palestinian terrorists since June, 2006.

The Red Cross released a statement which said in part, "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."

The statement continued, "Repeated requests by the ICRC to visit Gilad Shalit to ascertain his conditions of detention and treatment have also been refused."
 A Red Cross spokeswoman said her organization was encouraged that former U.S. President Jimmy Carter had succeeded in delivering a letter from the Shalit family to a Hamas representative.  "However," she said, "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."

Shalit, 22, was kidnapped in a cross-border attack into Israel from the Gaza Strip.  Two of Shalit's fellow soldiers were killed in the attack.

Sources:  The Jerusalem Post, Ha'aretz

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