B'Tselem: Holding Gilad Shalit as a hostage is a war crime

Published: 
25 Jun 2007

On the one-year anniversary of the abduction of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, B'Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories , states that he must be released immediately. The organization says that the circumstances of his capture and the behavior of his captors clearly indicate that he is a hostage.

International humanitarian law absolutely prohibits taking and holding a person by force in order to compel the enemy to meet certain demands, while threatening to harm or kill the person if the demands are not met. Furthermore, hostage-taking is considered a war crime and all those involved bear individual criminal liability.

Hamas, which de-facto controls the security apparatus in the Gaza Strip, bears the responsibility to act to release Shalit immediately and unconditionally. Until he is released, those holding him must grant him humane treatment and allow representatives of the ICRC to visit him. The fact that Shalit's right to these visits has been denied constitutes a blatant violation of international law, says B'Tselem.