An international human rights organization called Friday on the Hamas authorities in the
Gaza Strip to allow an Israeli soldier held captive there to communicate with his family and to receive visits from the International Red Cross, DPA reported.
In a statement issued to mark four years since Gaza-based militants staged a cross-border raid and snatched Gilad Shalit, Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused Hamas of "violating the laws of war" and said the Islamist organization's "prolonged incommunicado detention of Shalit is cruel and inhuman and may amount to torture."
Shalit was snatched on June 25, 2006. Hamas, which is holding him, has released only three letters from him, an audio recording, and a video recording.
The Islamist movement has refused requests by the Red Cross and by HRW to visit the captive, saying that to do so could reveal to Israel where he was being held.
"The laws of war prohibit cruel and inhuman treatment of persons in custody. They also require a party to a conflict to permit persons deprived of their liberty to correspond with their families and not to refuse arbitrarily a request by the ICRC to visit detainees," the HRW statement said.
Hamas is demanding the release of hundreds of Palestinians in return for Shalit. Attempts to organize a prisoner swap, conducted through Egyptian, and then German, mediation, have so far failed.