The parents of kidnapped soldier Gilad ben Aviva Shalit have change tactics and plan to file a suit in a Paris court regarding his being held as hostage. They say he may have “suffered acts of torture or of barbarism.”
Gilad Shalit is a French citizen, whose French-born parents Noam and Aviva live in northern Israel. He was kidnapped by Hamas, Army of Islam and allied terrorists five years ago this month when they attacked Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint adjacent to the Gaza region, killing two of Shalit’s comrades.
The family told the French news agency AFP it will file the suit against his “kidnapping and illegal confinement” and that he is being “held hostage illegally.”
The legal action is intended to put more pressure on the French government to work for his release. The Shalit family has conducted a campaign, encouraged by left-wing intellectuals and activists, to pressure Israeli governments to “pay any price” for the soldier’s release.
Although Noam and Aviva a Shalit have recently blamed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for not doing enough the win their son’s release, Ehud Olmert, who was Prime Minister when Shalit was kidnapped, stated at the time he would not meet again with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas until Shalit was released.
Under Olmert, the government rejected a Hamas proposal that Israel free 1,000 terrorists, ten of whom are serving prison terms for murdering dozens of Israelis. The Cabinet accepted security officials’ warnings that releasing the terrorists to their homes in Judea and Samaria would endanger the lives of all Israelis. Previously released terrorists have returned to violence and have killed approximately 150 civilians and soldiers.
Olmert also declared Israel would not release even a “single terrorist” for Shalit’s return. However, he quickly reversed his strategy, entered into negotiations with Abbas for the creating of the Palestinian Authority as a state and authorized negotiations for the soldier’s freedom.
After Hamas staged a military coup, throwing Abbas’ officials out of power in Gaza, negotiations continued. Abbas has not asked Hamas to release Shalit, whose physical and psychological condition are not known. Hamas has refused to honor the Geneva Convention that requires hostages to receive visits from the Red Cross and to communicate with family members.
Egypt has recently taken a more active part in trying to resume negotiations through German and Turkish mediators to win Shalit’s release.
Prof. Bassem Zbeidi, of Birzeit University, told the Chinese news agency Xinhua, “Egypt is very keen on dealing with the reconciliation among the Palestinians, and reaching [a] really serious deal on the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. It’s only logical that the Egyptians will take on the issue of releasing Shalit in exchange for Palestinian prisoners, in order to consolidate its position as an important doer in the game.”
However, he noted that Israel’s agreeing to a deal with Hamas is far from certain. “In the sense that the Israelis have always said they will never deal with a terrorist group, because dealing with them will give those groups a sense of recognition,” Zbeidi said.