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B’nai B’rith International welcomes the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who Hamas kidnapped and held captive for more than five years.

The return of the Israeli soldier after more than five years in captivity is certainly long overdue and should be celebrated. But the circumstances of the kidnapping, and Shalit’s long imprisonment, cannot be forgotten.

Gunmen from the Hamas terrorist group kidnapped Shalit June 25, 2006, in a border raid launched from Gaza.
Defying all international laws, Hamas did not allow the International Committee of the Red Cross, or any other group, to visit Shalit during his captivity. Hamas released a video of Shalit in early October 2009—the first time he’d been seen since he was captured.

“Though we are thankful that Gilad Shalit has been returned safely to Israel and his family, we are outraged at his treatment over the last five years,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said. “The terrorist group Hamas ignored all international entreaties for proof of Shalit’s wellbeing over the years. The group should not be praised for this much belated and cynical action.”

In exchange for Shalit, Israel released more than 1,000 terrorists, many of whom have led or been involved in carrying out terrorist acts killing hundreds of Israelis.

The released terrorists are being met with celebrations in Gaza and the West Bank. The continued call for Israel’s destruction by Hamas, and the failure of the Palestinian Authority to educate its population for peace, speaks volumes about the challenges Israel has, and is facing, as it seeks to live in peace.

B’nai B’rith initiated a petition to the International Committee of the Red Cross, urging the committee to press for visits with Shalit.
“The safe return of Staff Sgt. Shalit is being celebrated,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “But his captivity once again underscores the brutal nature of Hamas terrorism. To kidnap and then hold an Israeli all these years, not even allowing medical personnel to check on his health, is despicable. We must remember that Hamas finally released Shalit only when it was politically advantageous to them.”