The Red Cross has always been grudging in its attitude to Israel. Its decades of reluctance to accept Israel's Magen David Adom into its fold until the US Red Cross withdrew funding was a prime example. For many years, the Red Cross had pretended that its hands were tied, as Israel's Star of David emblem did not conform to its standards (while the Palestinian Red Crescent was fine).
And today, the Red Cross says it is pressuring Hamas to allow access to captured soldier Gilad Shalit. Somehow, in a perverted way, the Red Cross claims some sort of victory in its activities in the region:
"One of our main achievements is that we have been able to visit nearly everyone detained in connection to this conflict, with the exception of Gilad Shalit," Pierre Dorbes, deputy head of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Israel and the Occupied Territories, told Haaretz on Tuesday.
Dorbes conveniently forgets Ron Arad, or in fact any Israeli who has been captured in the past by Arab armies or militias. Of course the Red Cross has had access to all prisoners held by Israel. Israel acts within the norms of international law and morality even toward terrorists. And the Red Cross claims the credit!
Of course, the Red Cross is powerless against rogue regimes, like Hamas - isn't it? Academic Israel hater Noam Chomsky tells us in "Turning the Tide: US intervention in Central America and the struggle for peace" that the Red Cross "in July 1982... threatened to leave El Salvador because of human rights abuses by the armed forces...".
So in Gaza, has the Red Cross ever taken such a strong stand - if not for Gilad Shalit, then for the citizens of southern Israel who were subjected to barrages of rockets and missiles? For the daily abuses of human rights in Gaza as Hamas attacks its own citizens, steals their aid, uses them as human shields, implements kangaroo court death penalties, and much more?
How does the Red Cross pressure Hamas?
In East Jerusalem, the answer is clear - although the only media to have carried the story so far is the print edition of Israel's Hebrew language Yediot Aharonot and the website of the Muslim Brotherhood. (I leave you to ask your local media why this story is of no general interest.)
To quote Yediot Aharonot "Hamas does not allow Red Cross representatives to visit captive Gilad Shalit, but it doesn't stop the international organisation from granting asylum in its East Jerusalem offices to Hamas leaders." Israel has issued deportation orders for subversive activity against four Hamas leaders. One is in an Israeli jail, waiting the outcome of a high court appeal against the order. The others are photographed being served drinks by a Red Cross employee at a table laden with refreshments in the Red Cross East Jerusalem offices, which has granted them asylum and advised the Israeli authorities that they are under Red Cross protection.
Israel has warned that they are not protected there...but if they are arrested, I can just imagine the sudden media interest and outcry.