Gilad Shalit cannot be a Hamas bargaining chip

Gilad Shalit, kidnapped by Hamas armed forces in June 2006 on Israeli soil, has been kept hostage for almost 4 years with continued disregard for his basic human rights.

Initiator of the European Parliament’s Resolution calling for his immediate release, Sari Essayah MEP expressed her content for the large majority reached in today’s vote:
”The situation of Gilad Shalit is a humanitarian issue and the Joint Resolution of the political Groups underlines the fact that since being taken hostage nearly 4 years ago, he is kept in an unknown place in Gaza where he does not enjoy basic rights according to any humanitarian standards, including the 3rd Geneva Convention”, she said.

”It is from this humanitarian perspective that we demand the immediate release of Gilad Shalit. Meanwhile the minimum requirement is that the Red Cross and Gilad’s parents may be allowed to be in contact with him”, Essayah demanded.

”Gilad Shalit should not be made a bargaining chip by the terrorist organisation Hamas but should be released immediately. This is the message that the EPP Group wishes the High Representative Lady Ashton to take with her to Gaza during her forthcoming visit”, she concluded. Members from all political Groups in the European Parliament, except for the GUE/NGL Group, have signed a letter sent to Lady Ashton requesting her to raise the case during her visit to Gaza scheduled for Wednesday 17 March.

Sari Essayah MEP had invited Gilad Shalit’s father Noam Shalit to visit the European Parliament this week to inform Members of the case. During his visit, Mr Shalit met with the President of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, and the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton.

Background information:

Terrorist organisation Hamas kidnapped 19-year old Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in June 2006 on Israeli soil. Since then he has been held in captivity, completely isolated, in an unknown location in Gaza.

Hamas has released a video tape of him as proof of him being alive. Negotiations on Gilad Shalit’s release have been conducted on several occasions. The latest request was to free 1000 Palestinians, among whom many have carried out terrorist attacks, from Israeli prisons.

Gilad Shalit is a European (French) and Israeli citizen. After the kidnapping, he was granted Italian nationality as well. Sari Essayah MEP participated in the European Parliament’s Delegation visit to Israel  in February. During this visit, the EP Delegation met with Gilda Shalit’s father, Noam Shalit, who has now visited the European Parliament.