Washington, DC – Following the fourth anniversary of Hamas’ abduction of a 23 year-old Israeli soldier, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York (JCRC-NY) demanded that Hamas allow the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to visit Gilad Shalit, who is being denied basic human rights in a Hamas jail and has been completely cut off from communication with his family. The ICRC has been allowed to visit nearly everyone detained in connection to the Gaza conflict, except for Gilad Shalit. Recently, Hamas rejected yet another request from the International Committee of the Red Cross to meet with Shalit. The Senator and JCRC-NY called on Hamas to allow ICRC to deliver 12,000 messages from New Yorkers to the young prisoner. Last night, the U.S. Senate passed Gillibrand-Voinovich’s bipartisan resolution calling on Hamas to immediately and unconditionally release the Israeli soldier.
“For too long, Hamas has turned its back on basic human rights, holding hostage a young Israeli soldier in their attempts to coerce the Israeli government,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This cruel detention must end. Hamas must meet fundamental humanitarian standards and allow Gilad Shalit to receive humanitarian visits and aid. This young man must be freed so that he can finally return home.”
“I am deeply troubled by the continued detention of Gilad Shalit by Hamas four years after his kidnapping, and I pray for his expeditious release and safe return to his family in Israel,” said Senator Voinovich. “I have had an opportunity to see firsthand the devastating impact of Hamas on both Israelis and Palestinians during my many visits to the Middle East. I strongly believe that Israel has a right to defend itself against such attacks, but the Palestinian people must understand that improved humanitarian conditions in Gaza are dependent on an Israel free from Hamas terrorist attacks. Hamas is the problem – not the Palestinian people.”
“We demand that Hamas act in accordance with international law allow the International Committee of the Red Cross to visit Gilad Shalit,” said Janice W. Shorenstein, President of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, and Michael S. Miller, Executive Vice President and CEO of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York. “These thousands of messages which we have collected from New Yorkers send a clear and profound message that we will not be silent until Gilad is released and returned to his loving parents and family in the State of Israel.”
In a U.S. Senate resolution passed yesterday, Senator Gillibrand, who met with Gilad Shalit’s father Noam in New York during JCRC-NY’s Israel Day Parade last year, condemned the terrorist group’s deplorable captivity, calling on Hamas to immediately and unconditionally release Gilad Shalit and other Israeli soldiers, providing captives in wartime with visitation, medical care and humane treatment, and allow communication between the young prisoner and his family.
The resolution was co-sponsored by Senators George Voinovich (R-OH), Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Carl Levin (D-MI), Bob Casey (D-PA), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), and David Vitter (R-LA).
The Gillibrand-Voinovich resolution states, “Whereas Gilad Shalit has been held in captivity by Hamas for almost four years: Now, therefore, be it resolved, that the Senate (1) demands that (A) Hamas immediately and unconditionally release Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit; and (B) Hamas (i) allow prompt access to the Israeli captives by competent medical personnel and representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross; (ii) facilitate regular communication by Gilad Shalit with his family and allow his family to know where he is being held; and (iii) cease compelling Gilad Shalit to appear in video and voice recordings intended to illegally and extortionately coerce the Government of Israel.”
On June 25, 2006, Hamas kidnapped and captured the Israeli Defense Force soldier Gilad Shalit in a cross-border raid, holding him hostage for four years. Over the years, Israel has made several attempts to negotiate for his release. Under international law, Shalit is entitled to visits from the ICRC, which has made several requests to visit him.
Yesterday, JCRC-NY brought 12,000 messages of support from New Yorkers to the International Committee of the Red Cross for delivery to Gilad Shalit. Click here to send a note to Shalit.