ICRC welcomes release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and Palestinian detainees

18-10-2011 News Release 11/212

Geneva/Jerusalem (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) welcomes the repatriation of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit following his release from Gaza, and the transfer of 477 Palestinians released from Israeli places of detention.

"We welcome today's events. They are a source of great joy for the many families who are being reunited with their loved ones," said Juan Pedro Schaerer, the head of the ICRC delegation for Israel and the occupied territories. "At the same time, we regret that repeated requests made over the past five years by the ICRC for access to Mr Shalit, in order to monitor his condition and to facilitate the exchange of news with his family, were uniformly rejected. And we regret that hundreds of families of Palestinians from Gaza held in Israeli places of detention were punished by being prevented from visiting their detained relatives."

In its role as a neutral and impartial intermediary, the ICRC helped ensure that the release operation ran smoothly. ICRC delegates interviewed each detainee in private prior to his or her release to verify that they accepted their release. The ICRC also facilitated the transportation of the detainees into the West Bank and from the Kerem Shalom crossing into the Gaza Strip.

For further information, please contact:
Cecilia Goin, ICRC Jerusalem, tel: +972 52 601 91 50
Nadia Dibsy, ICRC Jerusalem, tel: +972 52 601 91 48
Marçal Izard, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 24 58 or +41 79 217 32 24