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Rights group criticizes Hamas treatment of Israeli - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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A Palestinian farmer inspects on June 25, 2010 a water well at the scene of a destroyed building following an Israeli air strike overnight on the southern Gaza strip town of Rafah (AFP)

A Palestinian farmer inspects on June 25, 2010 a water well at the scene of a destroyed building following an Israeli air strike overnight on the southern Gaza strip town of Rafah (AFP)

JERUSALEM (AP) – Human Rights Watch charged Friday that Hamas militants are violating the rules of war by prohibiting a captive Israeli soldier from having contact with his family and the Red Cross.

The treatment of the 23-year-old soldier, captured exactly four years ago, by his Hamas captors is “cruel and inhuman” and matches a U.N. definition of torture because he is denied any outside contact, the U.S.-based rights group said in a statement.

Hamas militants captured tank crewman Gilad Schalit inside Israel in 2006 and have been holding him since then in Gaza, the coastal Palestinian territory controlled by the Islamic organization. Negotiations over a deal that would see Israel win Schalit’s release by freeing hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, including militants convicted of deadly attacks against Israelis, have stalled.

Hamas released a video of Schalit in October 2009 to prove the soldier was alive. His current condition is unknown.

Friday’s statement from Human Rights Watch notes Israeli violations of Palestinian rights, including limitations on visitation rights for some Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, but says violations by one side “do not justify violations by the other.”

Schalit’s parents have begun a new effort to rally public support for a deal to release the soldier. They have urged the release of Palestinian prisoners and criticized Israel’s government this week for a recent decision to ease a blockade on the Gaza Strip, saying the blockade was an important bargaining chip for their son’s release. Israel arrested dozens of Hamas officials and legislators after Schalit’s capture, which came just months after the Islamic group won Palestinian parliamentary elections, and carried out another wave of arrests the following year.

Many of the Hamas officials have since been released but several dozen remain in detention, according to the Israeli rights group B’Tselem.

Four of the Hamas politicians released from prison are expected to be forced from their homes in Israeli-controlled east Jerusalem after the Israeli government stripped them of their residency rights, saying the men are senior members of a terror organization.

The men could be forcibly evicted by police as early as Friday.

Jerusalem police would not comment on a planned time for an eviction.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, a Hamas rival whose government in the West Bank has itself cracked down on members of the Islamic group, called the Israeli move a “dangerous precedent” and said Israel was creating “the biggest obstacles yet on the path to peace.”

A Palestinian youth stands in front of a mural depicting captured Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit, on the main road in Jabaliya refugee camp, northern Gaza Strip, June 24, 2010 (AP)

A Palestinian youth stands in front of a mural depicting captured Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit, on the main road in Jabaliya refugee camp, northern Gaza Strip, June 24, 2010 (AP)

A picture of captured Israeli soldier Sgt. Gilad Schalit is placed on a table next to a petition calling for his release at a solidarity tent outside Prime Minister's Netanyahu residence in Jerusalem, on June 24, 2010 (AFP)

A picture of captured Israeli soldier Sgt. Gilad Schalit is placed on a table next to a petition calling for his release at a solidarity tent outside Prime Minister’s Netanyahu residence in Jerusalem, on June 24, 2010 (AFP)

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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