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Israeli Shalit Activists Block Palestinian Prisoner Visit

Israeli activists on Tuesday prevented Palestinians from visiting relatives held in a jail in northern Israel to protest the ongoing captivity of soldier Gilad Shalit, an activist told Agence France Presse.

Around 50 supporters of Shalit, who was snatched by Gaza militants in 2006, stopped a bus carrying Palestinians from reaching the Gilboa Prison in the Beit She'an valley, Shalit activist Shimshon Liebman said.

"This time we succeeded; the bus turned back to the West Bank," Liebman said.

In August, a group of activists had tried to prevent Palestinians from visiting imprisoned relatives in southern Israel, but police intervened and allowed the Palestinians to pass.

Tuesday's action was a message both to Hamas, "who should not take the luxurious conditions of Israeli prisons for granted," and to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, "who should act to create a balance between the conditions of Hamas prisoners and Shalit, whose place of imprisonment is not even known to us," Liebman said.

Shalit was 19 when he was captured on June 25, 2006 by three armed groups, including the Islamist movement Hamas, and he has been held ever since at a secret location in the Gaza Strip.

He has not been permitted visits by the Red Cross, and the last sign of life dates back two years to October 2009 when Hamas released a video of him calling on Netanyahu to do everything to free him.

Mediated talks between Israel and Hamas on a prisoner release that would see hundreds of Palestinians freed in return for Shalit, have so far yielded no results.

Source: Agence France Presse


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