Thursday, December 10, 2009

Human Rights Day: Free Gilad Shalit

Gilad Shalit bannerI saw a "tweet" on twitter originally posted by Nonprofit Orgs and retweeted by Pursue Compassion announcing Human Rights Day and promoting the Have Fun, Do Good blog. I spent a little time reviewing the list of rights being promoted, but didn't see one that said "The Right to be Released from Illegal Captivity". I know that Amnesty International generally champions the cause of political prisoners, but I wasn't sure they included Gilad Shalit in their list.

According to Wikipedia, Gilad Shalit is an Israeli soldier who was captured by Palestinians during a border crossing raid on June 25, 2006. He was just 19 years old at the time and has been illegally held by the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas for almost three and a half years.

On February 10, 2009, Hamas released a video of Shalit showing a gaunt but otherwise apparently healthy young man. Hamas required the release of 20 female Palestinian prisoners just for making the Shalit video available to the Israeli authorities and the world media. While there has been recent news of an "imminent" release for Shalit, most likely mediated by Egypt, there have been no tangible results. Each side says that the other is to blame, according to a December 3rd news story by the Christian Science Monitor, but in the end, this 23 year old man is still in the hands of terrorists, with no end in sight.

Hamas generally demands the release of a large number of prisoners from Israel in exchange for a single Palestinian captive. There's an unconfirmed story online stating that Israel has agreed to release almost 1000 terrorist prisoners in exchange for Shalit. Whether this is true or not, it's understandable that Israeli authorities would balk at putting such a large number of terrorists back on the street to do more harm. On the other hand, if Israel levies sanctions on Gaza, where Hamas is headquartered and where Shalit is being held, "world opinion" is likely to again paint Israel as aggressive and hostile in their response, and said-response could include withholding food supplies and electricity from Gaza and even a military solution.

This last viewpoint of the world towards Israel is especially puzzling on Human Rights Day. Gilad Shalit is a human being. He has the same rights as any other human being. He is being held against his will. He committed no crime. He is NOT a prisoner of war, at least as evidenced by Hamas and their total and complete failure to comply with the conditions for the treatment of prisoners of war as per the Geneva Convention. Putting a rather fine point on the situation, Gilad Shalit is in the hands of a criminal gang whose sole purpose seems to be the extermination of the Jewish people.

In the spirit that Britt Bravo has attempted to create with her Have Fun, Do Good blog, I have taken up a cause. She encourages each person to do something to promote human rights, such as "Write a Letter, Make a Video, Embrace Diversity" for Human Rights Day on December 10th. For the occasion, I'm writing this article on my blog. I don't know that it's "fun", but I believe I am doing good. I'm embracing the human rights of Gilad Shalit, held captive illegally by Hamas in Gaza for 1264 days as of this writing. Gilad Shalit is a soldier, an Israeli, and a Jew. He's also a human being. Promote his human rights. Free Gilad Shalit! Free him now!

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