Cap­tured Is­raeli ‘mis­treated’ by Ha­mas in Gaza

Con­demned by Hu­man Rights Watch

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - WORLD -

JERUSALEM: Hu­man Rights Watch charged yes­ter­day that Ha­mas is vi­o­lat­ing the rules of war by pro­hibit­ing a cap­tive Is­raeli sol­dier from hav­ing con­tact with his fam­ily and the Red Cross.

The treat­ment of the 23-yearold sol­dier, cap­tured ex­actly four years ago, by his Ha­mas cap­tors is “cruel and in­hu­man” and matches a UN def­i­ni­tion of tor­ture be­cause he is de­nied any out­side con­tact, the US-based rights group said in a state­ment.

Ha­mas mil­i­tants cap­tured tank crewman Gi­lad Schalit in­side Is­rael in 2006 and have been hold­ing him since then in Gaza, the Pales­tinian ter­ri­tory con­trolled by the Is­lamic or­gan­i­sa­tion. Ne­go­ti­a­tions over a deal that would see Is­rael win Schalit’s re­lease by free­ing hun­dreds of Pales­tinian pris­on­ers, in­clud­ing mil­i­tants con­victed of deadly attacks against Is­raelis, have stalled.

Ha­mas re­leased a video of Schalit in Oc­to­ber 2009 to prove the sol­dier was alive. His cur­rent con­di­tion is un­known.

Yes­ter­day’s state­ment from Hu­man Rights Watch notes Is­raeli vi­o­la­tions of Pales­tinian rights, in­clud­ing lim­i­ta­tions on visi­ta­tion rights for some Pales­tinian pris­on­ers in Is­raeli jails, but says vi­o­la­tions by one side “do not jus­tify vi­o­la­tions by the other”.

Schalit’s par­ents have be­gun a new ef­fort to rally pub­lic sup­port for a deal to re­lease the army sergeant.

They have urged the re­lease of Pales­tinian pris­on­ers and crit­i­cised Is­rael’s govern­ment this week for a re­cent de­ci­sion to ease a block­ade on the Gaza Strip, say­ing the block­ade was an im­por­tant bar­gain­ing chip for their son’s re­lease.

Is­rael ar­rested dozens of Ha­mas of­fi­cials and leg­is­la­tors af­ter Schalit’s cap­ture, which came just months af­ter the Is­lamic group won Pales­tinian par­lia­men­tary elec­tions, and car­ried out an­other wave of ar­rests the fol­low­ing year.

Many of the Ha­mas of­fi­cials have since been re­leased but sev­eral dozen re­main in de­ten­tion, ac­cord­ing to the Is­raeli rights group B’Tse­lem.

Four of the Ha­mas politi­cians re­leased from prison are ex­pected to be forced from their homes in Is­raeli-con­trolled east Jerusalem af­ter the Is­raeli gover nment stripped them of their res­i­dency rights, say­ing the men are se­nior mem­bers of a ter­ror or­gan­i­sa­tion.

The men could be forcibly evicted by po­lice as early as this week.

Jerusalem po­lice would not com­ment on a planned time for an evic­tion.

Pales­tinian Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ab­bas, a Ha­mas ri­val whose govern­ment in the West Bank has it­self cracked down on mem­bers of the Is­lamic group, called the Is­raeli move a “dan­ger­ous prece­dent” and said Is­rael was cre­at­ing “the biggest ob­sta­cles yet on the path to peace”.– Sapa-AP


CAP­TIV­ITY: A paint­ing of Is­raeli army sol­dier Sergeant Gi­lad Schalit near a Jerusalem sol­i­dar­ity tent call­ing for his re­lease by Ha­mas.

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