France also marks five years without Gilad – In a special statement issued Friday by the French Embassy in Tel Aviv, Foreign Minister Allain Juppe wrote that France is not forsaking Gilad Shalit , who also holds a French citizenship, and is tirelessly working with its partners to secure his release.
Juppe added that Shalit is the French hostage who has been held in captivity the longest period of time, noting that his imprisonment conditions are in violation with the basic principles of international law.
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Other than the mediation efforts, Juppe noted that France was continuing to demand that Hamas allows the Red Cross to visit Shalit, as required by international law.
The French foreign ministry also wrote that the internal Palestinian reconciliation will hopefully present new opportunities and increase the efforts to free Gilad.
Earlier on Friday, the European Union urged the "immediate release" of Shalit.
"The European Council expresses its deep concern over the fate of Gilad Shalit, who is being held captive by Hamas in clear violation of international humanitarian law," said European leaders in a joint statement.
"The European Council demands the immediate release of Gilad Shalit who was kidnapped five years ago," it added.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that he intended to aggravate the incarceration conditions of Palestinian prisoners in response to Hamas's refusal to allow the Red Cross to visit Shalit.
Ronen Medzini and Attila Somfalvi contributed to this report
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