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Let the Iranian Red Crescent visit Gilad Shalit

November 24, 2016 22:55

As I write, the Iranian Red Crescent is sending two ships with humanitarian aid to Gaza. The International Red Cross has just distanced itself from the Iranian flotilla, stating that the Iranian ships were from the International Red Crescent, which is a different organisation. According to the Iranian Red Crescent's website, however: "The Red Crescent society of the Islamic Republic of Iran was established in 1922 under the name of 'red lion and sun society of Iran' and was recognised by the International Committee of the Red Cross and International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in 1923." So it can be said that the Iranian Red Crescent is connected to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, which is an international humanitarian movement founded to protect human life and health, to ensure respect for the human being, and to prevent and alleviate human suffering, without any discrimination based on nationality, race, sex, religious beliefs, class or political opinions.

Since the two ships are by definition on a purely humanitarian mission to Gaza, the Iranian Red Crescent is in a rare position to request a visit to Gilad Shalit, who has been held captive in Gaza for the past four years in violation of international humanitarian law. Hamas continues to rebuff requests made by the International Committee of the Red Cross to visit Shalit, but Iran is an ally of Hamas so a similar request from the Iranian Red Crescent may be viewed more favourably.

Iran’s anti-Israel stance need not preclude the Iranian Red Cresecent from fulfilling the International Federation's own mission statement TO PREVENT AND ALLEVIATE HUMAN SUFFERING, WITHOUT ANY DISCRIMINATION BASED ON NATIONALITY, RACE, SEX, RELIGIOUS BELIEFS, CLASS OR POLITICAL OPINIONS. Even during the worst violence of the Intifada, Magen David Adom and the Palestinian Red Crescent worked together to save lives. They still cooperate and have a good relationship, despite the difficulties. This only highlights the unique opportunity the Iranian Red Crescent now has to provide humanitarian assistance to everyone who needs it in Gaza.

Israel must make a clear request for the Iranian Red Crescent to visit Gilad Shalit, via the the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the EU, the UN – everywhere it can - and make the entry of the ships’ humanitarian aid into Gaza conditional upon the request being agreed. The world must urge the Iranian Red Crescent to show its true humanitarian face.

November 24, 2016 22:55

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