(Jerusalem) – Jerusalem based research organization NGO Monitor welcomed a statement from Human Rights Watch (HRW) on the third anniversary of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit’s kidnapping.  HRW has in the past three years released no more than a token demand for Shalit’s release, but today rightly called his detention ‘cruel and inhumane’. 

Shalit has been denied even one visit by the International Red Cross and access to his family has been limited to three letters, a grave contravention of one of the foundations of international humanitarian law.  HRW makes clear that Hamas has ‘no excuse’ for this violation.      

However, HRW’s statement is compromised by characteristically using Shalit’s fate as an opportunity to erroneously condemn Israel for ‘collective punishment’ in Gaza.   As noted by NGO Monitor, HRW and other NGOs have often couched sympathy for Shalit’s fate with condemnation of alleged Israeli ‘war crimes’.

Other major international human rights NGOs such as Amnesty International and Oxfam retain a virtual silence over Shalit’s fate, making comment only in the context of wider issues. Beyond isolated examples, Amnesty International, an organization founded to campaign on behalf of political prisoners, has done nothing to campaign for Shalit’s fundamental human rights.

NGO Monitor’s Executive Director, Prof Gerald Steinberg said, “Today’s statement by Human Rights Watch is a positive development for an organization which has all but ignored Gilad Shalit’s fate for the past three years and rarely misses an opportunity to criticize Israel.  It remains to be seen whether this reflects a changing attitude within HRW.  Meanwhile, the continued silence of groups such as Amnesty International over Shalit is a stain upon the international human rights community.”  

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Editors Notes:

NGO Monitor was founded to promote transparency, critical analysis and debate on the political role of human rights organizations.  For more information, see our website at


Other recent publications and reports by NGO Monitor include:-

Betrayed by Silence:  NGOs Ignore Shalit’s Rights  – March 26, 2009

The NGO Front in the Gaza War – February 5, 2009

NGO ‘Lawfare’:  Exploitation of Courts in the Arab-Israeli Conflict – October 8, 2008

NGO Monitor’s Executive Director is, Prof. Gerald Steinberg.

Members of NGO Monitor’s International Advisory Board include Elie Wiesel, Prof Alan Dershowitz, Sir Martin Gilbert and R. James Woolsey


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