Some 200 people took part in a rally in front of the Red Cross offices in Tel Aviv. It was initiated by an International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists (IAJLJ), which is also behind similar protest taking place in main cities across the world.
Tel Aviv rally. From Paris to Buenos Aires (photo: Matti Elmaliach)
The captive's father, Noam Shalit, attended the Tel Aviv rally as well. "Holding Gilad as a hostage for extortion and bargaining purposes, without any basic human rights, is a war crime according to the Rome Convention. This is an intolerable war crime which must be loudly and clearly condemned by the entire free world, and especially the European community," he said.
Shalit added, "The Hamas leaders must take full responsibility for this ongoing war crime. We call on all people of the free world wherever they are to end Gilad's ongoing suffering and demand his immediate rescue from Hamas, before it becomes too late."
Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky, who also attended the event, added that although Gilad was not receiving letters or reading newspapers, "there is no doubt that he knows and feels that he can never be forgotten, and we will make every effort to release him."
Sharansky, who used to be a prisoner of Zion in the former Soviet Union, noted that international pressure was what eventually led to his release from jail. "We call on all human rights organizations to respond to Hamas' war crimes and ensure that Gilad is released and returned to his family," Sharansky said.
Noam Shalit. 'Intolerable war crime' (Photo: Matti Elmaliach)
Attorney Irit Kohn, vice president of the ILJAJ, wondered during the rally what happened to the Red Cross' voice. "The organization helps in different places in the world and does an important job, but where is it when it comes to Gilad? Where are Gilad's human rights? We wanted to hear a condemnation from the International Red Cross of the way Hamas is acting, but if there ever was such a condemnation it was faint."
Similar protests were slated to be held on Friday, with the help of Jewish organizations and other human rights groups, outside Red Cross offices in New York, Buenos Aires, Santiago, Milano, Paris, Athens, Thessaloniki, Brussels, Vienna, Zurich and Berlin.
In a manifesto published by the organization worldwide, the legalists note that Hamas has been preventing visits to Gilad Shalit for more than four and a half years, won't have him examined by external medical teams and is cutting him off from the outside world.
"This refusal is a significant violation of human rights and of the internal laws relating to armed conflicts," the legalists wrote. "We call on the world not to accept this violation silently, but to make it clear to Hamas and to its supporters in Syria and Iran that the cultural world will not accept such a breach of the human rights of a young man."
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