“Gilad Shalit, you look fine”: Compare and contrast Israel, Hamas, and Egypt’s treatment of prisoners
The “new,” post-revolutionary Egypt, fresh from the “Arab Spring,” is complicit in Hamas’ mistreatment of Gilad Shalit through its appalling state television interview with him while he was still in custody. Hamas gunmen were still in the room when the interviewer asked him if he would work for the release of the rest of the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, among other ridiculous and abusive questions.
The full video, beginning with the “you look fine” remark, can be found in this BBC report, which also notes that the interviewer “also appeared to seek credit for Egypt, stating that Egyptian authorities had mediated the release and asking Sgt Shalit why he thought the mediation had worked.” The Egyptians had to hold up Shalit’s release for a moment of national preening and self-congratulation.
Regardless of Gilad Shalit’s official legal status as a Hamas hostage, the Geneva Convention concerning the treatment of prisoners remains the international standard. Hamas violated that document right and left in its treatment of Shalit, and Egypt piled on its own violation of Article 13, which calls for prisoners to be protected from “public curiosity.” The director of Egyptian state TV said himself it was too good a scoop to pass up — Shalit’s well-being be damned.
Following the massacre of over 20 Christian protesters, the violation of the Geneva Convention is but another strike against the “new” Egypt’s ability and willingness to abide by international standards for human rights.
Other points of contrast between the treatment of Shalit and the prisoners for whom he was exchanged follow below, and the contrasting images of their conditions upon their release prove the difference. “The prisoner comparison,” from YNet News, October 19:
In the days before Gilad Shalit was returned to Israel, various Hamas spokesmen boasted that he was treated well by his captors, “in line with the tenants of Islam.” Meanwhile, other Palestinians slammed the imprisonment terms in Israeli jails as exceptionally harsh and cruel.
Following the completion of the Shalit swap, Ynetnews presents a comparison between the jail terms of Palestinian security detainees held in Israel and the treatment accorded to Gilad Shalit by Hamas.
Leisure and entertainment: Based on initial statements, Shalit was able to watch Arabic-language television and listen to Arabic-language radio. Meanwhile, Palestinian prisoners are given books and have access to 10 television channels.
Physical activity: Gilad Shalit’s pale skin and his apparent difficulty in handling sunlight in the early moments of his release indicate that he was deprived of sunlight, a fact reinforced by statements from his father, Noam. Moreover, Gilad was held in solitary confinement. Meanwhile, Palestinian prisoners are allowed to exercise and walk outside in the sun every day. In addition, inmates can attend prayer sessions and religious classes.
Visits: Nobody visited Gilad Shalit in captivity, including Red Cross representatives. In Israel, close relatives of Palestinian inmates are allowed to visit every two weeks. In addition, Palestinian detainees are allowed to hug children aged up to 8.
The interviewer asks Shalit why he only gave one interview in all these years.
Communication with the world: Gilad only sent one videotape, one audiotape, and three letters (largely dictated by his captors.) Meanwhile, Palestinian prisoners are entitled to meet lawyers and Red Cross representatives and can mail up to four letters each month.
Medical treatment: Gilad, who requires eyeglasses, arrived in Israel following his captivity without his glasses. Some experts said his vision may have been hampered had he been without glasses for years. Shalit’s father, Noam, added that his son is suffering from shrapnel wounds that were not treated by Hamas. Meanwhile, Palestinian inmates are entitled to regular medical treatments, including dental work and eye exams.
Food: At this time, the quantity and quality of Gilad’s food in captivity is unknown. However, he returned to Israel visibly slimmer and weaker. Meanwhile, Palestinian prisoners are given three full meals a day. They also receive some NIS 1,200 (roughly $350) per month from various organizations and use it to shop at the prison’s canteen.