Red Cross Says it Hasn't Seen Israeli Soldiers Kidnapped by Hezbollah and Hamas-Linked Gunmen
GENEVA – The International Red Cross said Wednesday it has been unable to visit the three Israeli soldiers captured by militant Arab groups last summer, but that it has assured the captives' families that it is still pushing for access to them.
Asked whether the International Committee of the Red Cross knew whether the three were still alive, spokeswoman Dorothea Krimitsas said only, "We have not been able to visit them, and we don't have any other information about them."
A senior ICRC representative met with the families in Brussels, Belgium, on Tuesday to update them on the situation, Krimitsas told The Associated Press.
"We fully share their anguish and frustration," she said. "All our efforts are aimed at allowing the captured soldiers to be able to establish contact with their families."
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Hezbollah has said previously that the two Israeli soldiers it captured on July 12 can be released only through a prisoner exchange with Israel, but Israel has demanded their unconditional release. The capture of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev was cited as the cause for Israel's invasion of Lebanon in the summer.
Israeli Cpl. Gilad Shalit was captured June 25 by Hamas-linked militants, which sparked a major Israeli offensive in Gaza.
Asked whether the ICRC had asked Hamas and Hezbollah for access to the soldiers, Krimitsas said, "We are in a continuous dialogue. We are continuing our dialogue and persuasion efforts with all parties involved at all levels. We are also in contact with all the parties on the ground."
The neutral ICRC visits prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions and "has offered its services and it is working hard now to continue to pursue the dialogue and persuasion efforts with all the parties to ensure that the soldiers can establish contact with their families."