father expresses hope Hamas is willing to negotiate
after Hamas released an audio message purportedly from Gilad Shalit,
the father of the Israel Defense Forces soldier issued a response
on the first concrete sign of life of his son since his abduction
a year ago.
Addressing the press from his home in Mitzpeh Hila, Noam Shalit
said the tape appears to be authentic, although the content was
“obviously dictated by his captors.”
“We hope this is a sign that Hamas is
genuinely interested in making progress on a deal, and not just
a spin ... to divert attention back to Gaza,” added Shalit.
Shalit said that, if Hamas is genuinely interested in talks, he
expects Israel to take the necessary steps to make a deal. “It
has been a year,” he said. “I think that is enough.”
In a recording posted on a Hamas website, the
voice identified as Shalit said he was disappointed over the Israeli
government’s lack of interest in his fate.
Shalit added that his health was deteriorating, and that he would
need to be hospitalized for a long period of time.
“I am Gilad, son of Noam Shalit, prisoner
of the Izz el-Din al-Qassam Kataib [Brigades],” the message
began, using the Arabic word for brigades—strengthening suspicions
he was reading a dictated statement.
“Mom and Dad, brother and sister, my friends in the IDF—I
send my love and miss you all dearly. It has been a year since I
was captured, and my health is deteriorating. I am in need of prolonged
“I am sorry for the Israeli government’s
and IDF’s lack of interest in me and their rejection of the
demands of Izz el-Din al-Qassam [the Hamas armed wing]. It is clear
that they must accept their demands if they want me to be released
from prison, especially since I was part of a military operation
under military instruction and not a drug dealer.
“And just as I have a mother and father,
the thousands of Palestinian prisoners also have mothers and fathers—and
their children must be returned to them. I have great confidence
in my government that they will focus more on my issue and accept
the demands of my captors.”
Militants: ‘He is in good health’
The release of the tape on Israel’s Channel 2 television followed
an announcement by a Popular Resistance Committees’ spokesman
that there would be a “positive surprise” regarding
Shalit on Monday, exactly a year after his abduction.
The Popular Resistance Committees is one
of three Hamas-linked groups that captured Shalit.
“Shalit is alive and in very good
shape,” Abu Mujahid said, “His health is good and he’s
stable. We are treating him according to our religion’s instructions
on how to deal with war prisoners.” Abu Mujahid also said
that Shalit does not need anything and was receiving good treatment.
Shalit, 20, was kidnapped by Palestinian
gunmen in a cross-border raid into Israel from the Gaza Strip on
June 25, 2006. Prior to Monday, he had not been seen or heard from
since he was captured.
The Israeli human rights organization
B’Tselem declared on Monday, the one-year anniversary of the
abduction of Shalit, that holding him hostage was a war crime and
that he must be immediately released.
The organization, which mainly works to
protect the human rights of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza
Strip, emphasized in a press release that those involved in the
kidnapping bear individual criminal liability for the war crime.
B’Tselem said: “The circumstances of his capture and
the behavior of his captors clearly indicate that he is a hostage.”
International humanitarian law absolutely
prohibits “the taking and holding of a person by force in
order to compel the enemy to meet certain demands, while threatening
to harm or kill that person if the demands are not met,” the
B’Tselem said that the Hamas leadership
has to work for Shalit’s immediate release, and without conditions.
Hamas currently controls the entire security apparatus in the Gaza
Strip after ousting Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’
Fatah over a week ago.
Until the soldier’s release, B’Tselem
said, his captors have to treat him humanely and grant Red Cross
representatives access to him. The organization noted that the prevention
of Red Cross’ visits is a “flagrant violation of international
At a near the Knesset to mark Shalit’s abduction Sunday, his
father Noam called on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to secure his son’s
release or step down.
Meanwhile, two other human rights groups criticized Shalit’s
Doctors for Human Rights called on Hamas to immediately provide
Shalit with proper medical treatment.
“Denying him treatment is a serious
breach of the Geneva Convention and of medical and human rights
ethics. One cannot deny medical treatment from those in need because
of negotiations and secrecy,” it said.
Almagor Terror Victims Association said
the recording’s release was a “cynical attempt”
to exploit the media and influence public opinion and the government
to free terrorists.
“Releasing the recording, its timing
and content, show terror organizations have thoroughly learnt the
weak spots of Israeli society, which runs the risk of a downwards
slope of terror attacks and kidnappings if it accepts the despicable
blackmail,” it said.
Report: Gilad Shalit held in booby-trapped
Channel 2 television reported Sunday that Gilad Shalit was being
held in the southern Gaza Strip in an underground room inside a
The reports said Shalit was being held near Shaboura refugee camp,
close to the town of Rafah in the southern part of the coastal territory.
The report said the information had come
from Hamas sources.
Israeli officials declined to comment and a militant source representing
one of the three groups holding Shalit said the report was “speculation
The television report said Shalit was being cared for by two captors
with whom he had formed a “cordial” relationship and
he was being treated fairly.
Shalit’s living quarters were described as a two-room underground
store with enough supplies to last two weeks, accessible down a
ladder through a 15-meter deep shaft which the report said was lined
It added that the captors receive supplies
and newspaper cuttings every two weeks and that they had been ordered
to take good care of their prisoner.
Last year, Shalit’s captors refused to accept a pair of eye
glasses sent by his parents because they feared they were embedded
with miniature electronic devices.