Hamas has rejected the latest request from the International Red Cross to visit abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit, Israel Radio reported today.
Hamas denied the request for fear that the visit might lead Israel to try to free Shalit in a military operation, according to Hamas lawmaker Yehia Moussa, who told a Hamas newspaper that the Red Cross did not take the military reality in the Middle East into account when it made the request.
The International Committee of the Red Cross said it has approached Hamas a number of times to allow its representatives to visit the kidnapped soldier in Gaza, only to be denied time after time.
“One of our main achievements is that we have been able to visit nearly everyone detained in connection to this conflict, with the exception of Gilad Shalit,” Pierre Dorbes, deputy head of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Israel and the Occupied Territories, told Haaretz on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Shalit’s grandfather, Zvi Shalit, met with Prime Minister Netanyahu in Yerushalayim Tuesday. Following the meeting, which was also attended by top Shalit negotiator Chaggai Hadas as well as Netanyahu’s military secretary, Brig. Gen. Yohanan Locker, the 85-year-old told Haaretz that the meeting was strained and fraught with disagreements.
The elder Shalit had to wait for three hours before Netanyahu was able to see him, as the prime minister’s schedule shifted around the budget votes.
“I spoke [to Netanyahu] as a human being and as a grandfather who wants to see his grandson return home after four years [in captivity]. I told Netanyahu the conduct over this matter was not satisfactory and he said that yes, it was,” he added.
Although Netanyahu did not issue a statement about the content of the meeting, nor did he allow photographers to be present, his office did comment Tuesday on the three-hour delay in the meeting.
Next week, the Shalits are hoping to join thousands of supporters, including supermodel Bar Refaeli and dozens of other local celebrities, on a cross-country march for Gilad’s release.
The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra is holding a special concert near the Gaza border – conducted by renowned conductor Zubin Mehta – to call for Shalit’s release.
Shalit’s parents have pledged to camp outside the prime minister’s residence until their son is freed from captivity.