News release

Geneva/Jerusalem (ICRC) – The International committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) today facilitated the return to Gaza and the West Bank of female Palestinian detainees released from Israeli custody.

“We welcome the reunion of the released detainees with their families. Our role is strictly humanitarian and part of our ongoing work to restore and maintain contact between people detained in relation to armed conflict and their families, ” said Pierre Dorbes, the ICRC’s deputy head of delegation in Israel and the occupied territories.

The ICRC transported the detainees from their place of release to the crossing points of Beitunya in the West Bank and Erez in Gaza. ICRC staff have been monitoring the process at the crossing points and at Ofer prison. ICRC delegates interviewed each detainee in private, to confirm that they were not being sent back to any location against their will. The ICRC acted as a neutral intermediary, with the full agreement of all concerned parties.

” We will regard it as a very positive step if the family of Gilad Shalit receives a sign of life from their son,” said Mr Dorbes. ” Families have the right to know what has happened to relatives who are missing or detained, and all detainees should at least be allowed to let their families know they are still alive. The ICRC has repeatedly urged those holding Shalit to comply with the rules of international humanitarian law – in particular, to allow him to correspond with his family.”