Corporal Gilad Shalit was only 19 years old when he was captured on June 25th 2006 by armed Palestinian groups, including Hamas’s military wing.
He is 24 years old now. On June 25th, it will be over five years since Aviva and Noam Shalit, Gilad’s parents, have been able to touch their son or speak to him directly – even by mail. It has been nearly two years since they’ve even seen him on video or received any other proof of life.
“As the days go by, we begin to despair of the day when we will see our son again. I know neither where he is held nor how he fares … or whether he is even alive.” (Noam Shalit, Gilad Shalit’s father, addressing the UN Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, July 6, 2009)
Hamas, the de facto administration in the Gaza Strip, are holding him in a secret location and using him as a hostage to use as leverage when negotiating with Israel. But, Hamas is required under international humanitarian law to ensure that he is
- well treated
- held in humane and dignified living conditions
- and allowed to communicate with his family, including through sending and receiving letters.
Treating Gilad Shalit as a hostage is a flagrant violations of these obligations.
Amnesty has been working on Gilad Shalit’s behalf since 2006, with different sections of Amnesty (AIUSA, AI-UK, AI-Ireland, and AI-Canada to list a few) undertaking different initiatives including the mobilization of individual members through letter-writing as well as higher level, behind-the-scenes Amnesty meetings that aren’t advertised publicly.
On this, the end of the 5th year of Gilad’s captivity, Amnesty International is asking activists around the world to sign our petition to Isma’il Haniyeh, Prime Minister of Hamas, urging him to alleviate the suffering of Gilad Shalit and his family by immediately complying with its obligations under international law.
Gilad Shalit’s family continue to campaign tirelessly for his immediate release or some assurance that he is alive and well. The Hamas authorities though, say they will not release Gilad Shalit without the release of some of the thousands of Palestinians held in Israel.
Amnesty, in its work on behalf of Gilad as well as Palestinian prisoners, continues to reiterate that neither Gilad – nor the Palestinian prisoners detained by Israel – should be used as pawns or bargaining chips. Each prisoner – Israeli or Palestinian – is an individual with basic human rights. Any violation of international law by Israel or Hamas does not justify Hamas’s treatment of Gilad Shalit or Israel’s treatment of Palestinian prisoners that violates their rights.
Gilad Shalit deserves to be treated as an individual and given his basic human rights as defined under international law. To act, select to send a letter/email to Hamas through our online action, sign the petition to Isma’il Haniyeh, and/or write a letter to Gilad Shalit himself. Amnesty will deliver these letters of hope and support next fall when they deliver the petition to Hamas authorities.
You can send your letters to Gilad to:
Peter Benenson House
1 Easton Street
London WC1X 0DW