Oral Testimony of Noam Shalit
Delivered to UN Fact Finding
My name is Noam Schalit and I am the father of the kidnapped Israeli soldier and French citizen Gilad Schalit.
Honorable members of the
Honorable Members of the
And I have no doubt that, in due course, you will determine that my son’s violent abduction and his continuing detention - subject to extortion - is, equally, a violation of international law. After you hear the recording of my son’s voice - released on the first anniversary of his capture – and read the letter delivered a year later, you will be shocked by the callous cynicism of his captors and the grief that his words have caused me and my family. These are words that he was forced to read and write. You will also find, without a doubt, that the refusal to allow him access to the Red Cross, if not a war crime is, at least, a gross act of inhumanity and an aggravating circumstance.
Members of the Mission - The same Geneva Convention of 1949 which this Mission will use to judge the legality of the Israeli attack on Gaza forbids the holding to ransom of an individual - whether he be soldier or otherwise. The same Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court by which the Palestinian Authority seeks to charge the Israeli leadership condemns the HAMAS leadership no less for the crime of taking hostages - soldiers or otherwise.
But what is the purpose of this honorable
And now, with you permission, I would like to address the Palestinian victims of Operation Cast Lead.
I last saw my son Gilad on
Your leaders say Gilad is a prisoner of war. I say he is an abductee. The difference is in the interpretation of the law. But even if your leaders hold my son as a prisoner of war - why will they not allow him the privileges which attach to such a status? Gilad has had no contact with the outside world for more than 1,100 days and nights. Your leaders refuse him access to the International Committee of the Red Cross; the same Red Cross which regularly visits your people held captive in Israeli prisons; the same Red Cross which protests the violations of their rights to the Israeli Government.
Your leaders have committed a crime with respect to my son. They hold him to ransom and, by the same token, they hold all of you to ransom. For three years now, you have been held hostage to the inflexible demands of your leaders and their unwillingness to compromise. They issue demands which, I fear, the Israeli Government will never meet. My son’s fate is the means through which your leaders distract your attention from the destruction they have brought upon you. Is this humane? Are these the acts of an honorable regime?
President Sarkozy of
But if a prisoner exchange need be the course we are forced to adopt, let reason and moderation overcome excessive demands. Let not a stalemate in the negotiations prevail over the will of the people. Let not stubborness triumph over compassion.
And finally to the people holding my son: I urge you to release my son immediately. You have the power to act with grace. Do it for the respectability that you wish the international community to accord you. Do it because you see yourselves as statesmen acting with humane intent. Do it for the sake of the respect you say you show this