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Red Cross offers to mediate prisoner swap

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has offered to help arrange the exchange of an Israeli soldier for Palestinian prisoners.

As an ICRC spokesman told the Reuters news agency on Thursday, the humanitarian organisation is in talks with both Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers.

“We are talking to both sides about our offer. We have offered our services as a neutral intermediary to both sides,” ICRC spokesman Marcal Izard told Reuters.

The soldier in question is 25-year-old Gilad Shalit, who has been imprisoned in Gaza since 2006.

With help from Egypt and Germany, Israel and Hamas leaders have agreed to swap more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners for Shalit – whose parents have been in regular contact with the ICRC in Geneva over the years.

In June the ICRC urged Hamas to prove that Shalit was still alive and to allow contact with his family, as is required under international humanitarian law.

“The ICRC welcomes that the ordeal of the family of Gilad Shalit will end and Gilad Shalit will soon see his family again,” Izard said. “The ICRC also welcomes the reunion of the released Palestinian detainees with their families.”

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR