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RF calls for fulfilling obligations over release of Gilad Shalit – FM

October 13, 2011, 16:16 UTC+3

In exchange for his release, Hamas is demanding the release of 1,000 prisoners – Palestinians serving prison sentences in Israel

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MOSCOW, October 13 (Itar-Tass) — Russia believes that the agreements on the release of Gilad Shalit were complied with by both parties, Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said on Thursday.

“We were satisfied with this news [the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was seized by militants in the Gaza Strip in 2006] that had been based on the agreements reached by Israel and the Hamas movement,” the diplomat stressed.

“When Shalit was seized, Russia supported mediation efforts in this aspect and made its contribution. We urged the Hamas movement to release the Israeli soldier,” he noted.

“At present, we believe it very important for the parties fulfil their obligations strictly. This will make it possible to solve acute problems and help soften tension in the Gaza Strip,” Lukashevich said.

Gilad Shalit is an Israeli soldier and French national and an IDF soldier who was captured from Israel on June 25, 2006 by Hamas militants in a cross-border raid. Shalit was abducted near the Kerem Shalom crossing (in Israel), and has been held as hostage at an unknown location in the Gaza Strip by Hamas. As of October 11, 2011, it was reported that a deal may soon secure his freedom after more than five years in isolation and captivity, though Shalit has not yet been freed.

Hamas has refused requests from the International Committee of the Red Cross to allow the ICRC to visit Shalit, and claims that any such visit could betray the location where Shalit is being held captive. Multiple human rights organisations have stated that the terms and conditions of Shalit's confinement are contrary to international humanitarian law. To date, the only contact between Shalit and the outside world since his capture has been three letters, an audio tape, and a DVD that Israel received in return for releasing 20 female Palestinian prisoners.

Shalit holds dual French and Israeli citizenship, a fact that encouraged France and the European Union to be involved in efforts to release him from his captors.

In exchange for his release, Hamas is demanding the release of 1,000 prisoners – Palestinians serving prison sentences in Israel – as well as all female and underage Palestinians convicted and serving sentences.

On May 11, 2010, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev called for Gilad Shalit to be freed “as soon as possible” during the meeting with the meeting with Hamas leaders in Damascus. “The Russian president urged solving the problem of releasing Israeli citizen Gilad Shalit as soon as possible,” spokeswoman Natalya Timakova said. Russia is the only country that has direct dialogue with Hamas. Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal reportedly said they would only consider releasing the soldier when Israel resumed talks to free Palestinian prisoners.

On October 11, 2011 the Al Arabiya network first reported that Israel and Hamas reached an agreement on Gilad Shalit. Netanyahu convened a special Cabinet meeting to approve the layout of the Shalit deal. Shalit's release negotiations include the possible release of 1,027 Hamas and Palestinian prisoners by Israel.

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