Friday, June 24, 2011

Hold Palestinians Responsible After Hamas Turns Down Red Cross on Shalit

Jonathan S. Tobin 06.23.2011 - 1:15 PM

Five years after they kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, the Hamas terrorist organization has refused the request of the International Committee of the Red Cross for information about their prisoner. The ICRC has not previously been active in its advocacy for Shalit, but after two years of complete silence, the group is stepping up and demanding news of his fate.

But rather than at least giving Shalit’s family some proof their son is still alive, Hamas has decided to stonewall the ICRC saying that such requests mean the group is “involved in the Israeli security game.” While Hamas sought to turn the issue around to one involving Palestinian security prisoners in Israeli jails, there is no analogy between the two. The latter not only have access to independent courts, access to them is available to the ICRC. Independent observers or anyone other than his captors have never seen Shalit, who was captured in a raid conducted across Israel’s border with Gaza.

This inhuman stand is consistent with Hamas’ record as a bloodthirsty terrorist organization. In light of the group’s recent alliance with Fatah, Shalit’s fate must now be put on the agenda of any talks between the Palestinian Authority and either the United States or Israel. Though the PA and Hamas remain at loggerheads over the composition of the coalition government they will form, Fatah’s decision to join forces with the Islamist group means they now have joint responsibility for Shalit.

While the Obama administration has paid lip service to concern about Shalit, if it winds up recognizing the Fatah-Hamas unity government without resolving this issue, it too will have acquired some guilt in the matter. The United States retains enormous leverage over the Palestinians in the form of aid that keeps the PA afloat. This latest outrage over Shalit ought to convince Congress to block any funds from going to a PA government unwilling to free its Israeli captive.