On 25 June 2011, 24-year-old Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit will have spent five years in captivity in an unknown location somewhere in the Gaza Strip. The Shalit family have heard nothing of him for nearly two years but despite this, they continue to hope for – at the very least – a letter from Gilad.
Gilad was captured during an attack on his army base by Palestinian armed groups including the military wing of Hamas; two other soldiers were killed and a third injured. Gilad Shalit is being kept as a bargaining chip for Hamas’ political demands, including the release of some of the thousands of Palestinians held by Israel, many of whom are also denied visits from their families.
For five years, he has been denied any meaningful contact with the outside world; he is prevented even from exchanging letters with his family who continue to campaign on his case and live each day in the hope of receiving word from him as to his wellbeing and living conditions. In his father Noam’s words, “I know neither where he is held nor how he fares… or whether he is even alive…” The last the family heard of Gilad was a video of him reading a statement while holding a copy of a newspaper dated 14 September 2009.
Amnesty International is today calling on the Hamas de facto authorities in Gaza to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law to ensure that Gilad Shalit is well treated, held in humane and dignified living conditions, and allowed to communicate with his family, including through sending and receiving letters, and given immediate access to the International Committee of the Red Cross. They must cease treating Gilad Shalit as a hostage, which is a flagrant violation of their obligations under international humanitarian law.
We encourage you to support the campaign to alleviate the suffering of Gilad Shalit and his family by signing the petition to Isma’il Haniyeh, Prime Minister of the Hamas de facto administration in Gaza.
Prime Minister, I urge you to take all necessary measures to comply with Hamas’ obligations under international humanitarian law in order to ensure that Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit:
- is allowed to communicate with his family including through sending and receiving letters;
- is well treated, held in humane and dignified living conditions;
- is given immediate access to the International Committee of the Red Cross;
- is not treated as a hostage.