The Gilad Shalit case, or what is a cat worth?

What is a cat worth? Thought I’d ask not because I’m interested in selling a couple of dozen moggies or because I especially like furry felines (though I do), but because of this cryptic quote from the Hamas deputy leader, Moussa abu Marzouk about the 22-year-old kidnapped Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, subject of a previous post on this blog:

“Shalit may have been wounded, and he may not have been. The subject no longer interests us. We are not interested in his well-being at all, and we are not giving him any special guard since he is worth no more than a cat."

Nice. This is how Mr Abu Marzouk has been quoted regarding Gilad Shalit’s welfare when rumours began circulating at the beginning of this year that the Israeli army private had been injured or even killed during Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s massive bombardment of Gaza during late December and the first two-thirds of January. (By the way, there’s a new Amnesty report on this – 22 Days Of Death And Destruction – out next week: 2 July).

Hundreds of Palestinian civilians were killed in a sometimes reckless operation by the Israel Defense Forces during this conflict and I imagine that this was intended as Abu Marzouk’s defiant response. They kill our people, we’ll kill (or mistreat one of theirs).

It’s totally unacceptable though. Two wrongs rarely make a right and to give the distinct impression that those holding Shalit would deliberately endanger a defenceless captive’s life is frankly outrageous and would constitute a serious breach of international humanitarian law.

Let’s be clear. Supporting human rights – both for the benighted people of Gaza and the West Bank, but also for Israelis as well – must unequivocally mean resisting any kind of descent into barbarism and human rights abuse. To me it’s clear that Moussa abu Marzouk’s sinister statement is tantamount to exactly that.

It’s also equally clear that pro-Shalit protestors are totally misguided if they think that blocking the delivery of humanitarian aid into Gaza is a justifiable way of raising awareness of this young soldier’s plight ahead of today’s three-year “anniversary” of his abduction. Haven’t they heard about two wrongs …?

Please send an Amnesty appeal for Gilad Shalit to be well-treated and allowed visits from the Red Cross (in line with humanitarian law) and let’s re-assert the basic principles of humanity and human rights. Oh, and let’s stop bad-mouthing cats.

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