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HRW calls for release of captive soldiers

Human Rights Watch called on Hezbollah and Hamas to release captive Israeli soldiers. The leading human rights group issued its call Thursday in conjunction with a call on Israel to release Hamas lawmakers. “The groups holding these soldiers hostage must release them immediately,” HRW said, referring to Gilad Shalit, captured in a cross-border raid in June 2006 by Hamas affiliated gunmen, and Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, captured by Hezbollah in a cross border raid a month later, precipitating the Lebanon war. In calling for the release of Hamas lawmakers, HRW noted that “It was only after Cpl. Shalit’s capture that Israel started arresting Hamas legislators and ministers who had participated in Israeli-sanctioned Palestinian elections in January 2006.” However, it added: “Israel’s response to hostage-taking should not include arbitrary arrests.” HRW has also criticized Hamas-sanctioned rocket fire from the Gaza Strip into Israel.