Sunday, July 16, 2006

UN, AI Demand Humane Treatment, Release of Israeli Soldiers

The United Nations issued a statement calling for Israeli soldiers captured by the militant Palestinian organizations to be immediately released.

The capture of the three soldiers -- one held in Gaza by Hamas and two in Lebanon by Hezbollah -- predicated the recent spasm of violence in the region.

"Under the articles of the United Nations and world law, the unlawful kidnapping of the three soldiers serves only to exacerbate the situation," said UN General Secretary Kofi Annan in the statement. "The continuing conflict serves the interests neither of Israel or the Palestinians and undermine ongoing efforts to create a peaceful solution, and they should be freed immediately."

I completely made that up.

The current escalation of the conflict --with Israel conducting bombardment and raids into both Lebanon and Gaza in an effort to have the soldiers returned-- comes a year after Israel ceded to the demands of the Palestinians and peacefully returned control of Gaza to Palestinian control. All Israeli settlers were removed the occupied territory and the Palestinian Authority was given total control of the area.

In return, Hamas has repeatedly used Gaza as a cite for firing rockets into Israel daily since then. By some counts, more than 3,000 rockets have been fired into Israel by Hamas from Gaza in the past year. Israel has often retaliated by capturing and killing Hamas leaders and combatants, occasionally also injuring and killing Palestinian civilians. The capture of the soldiers was reportedly a response to that retaliation.

Amnesty International also issued a statement calling Hamas and Hezbollah to hold to the articles of the Geneva Convention in their treatment of the captured soldiers.

AI specifically said the the soldiers must not be tortured or killed, that AI and the International Red Cross should be given access to them to ensure they are being treated humanely, said Malcolm Smart, Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East Programme.

I made most of that up -- AI did make a statement that the soldiers be treated humanely, but as part of a larger press release calling for both the Palestinians and the Israelis to cease hostilities. And they did not call for the soldiers to be treated under the Geneva Convention, as they have demanded for the detainees at Gitmo.

In the past, soldiers captured by Hamas and Hezbollah all have been murdered.

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