Human Rights Groups Must Launch Campaign for His Release

Jerusalem – At a moment when he should be celebrating with friends and family, Gilad Shalit will be marking his 24th birthday tomorrow still in captivity and without access to the care to which he is entitled under international law.  While non-governmental organizations (NGOs) repeatedly target Israel for alleged violations, Shalit’s plight remains largely ignored by these self-proclaimed “human rights groups,” notes NGO Monitor, a Jerusalem-based research institution.

“Unfortunately, judging by their lack of action and reporting on his captivity, most NGOs do not deem Gilad Shalit worthy of significant efforts and resources,” says Prof. Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor.  “He has now been held by Hamas in Gaza for over four years, without access to the International Committee of the Red Cross, and in direct contravention of the Geneva Convention.  It is a human rights tragedy that should galvanize the every NGO that claims to protect those rights for all people, regardless of religion, ethnicity, race, or gender.”

NGO Monitor points put that Human Rights Watch (HRW), Amnesty International, B’Tselem, and the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) have occasionally released statements mentioning Shalit. However, there has been no coordinated, sustained effort by those groups to demand his release.

“The recent ‘Free Gaza Flotilla’ incident was a clear example of the power of NGOs to create an incident that draws international attention,” adds Steinberg.  “But for four years Shalit’s family has been waiting for a similar attention-grapping effort. Even at this late hour, we call on NGOs to mobilize and initiate a campaign demanding his release. This campaign should have the support and contribution of all NGOs that claim to stand for human rights.”

For more information on the lack of NGO responses to Shalit’s kidnapping and captivity, see NGO Monitor’s report.