Within public international law, especially in the area of humanitarian law, hostage-takings have in the past mostly been discussed with regard to civilians. Purposeful abductions of members of regular armed forces of a state have often been disregarded. This is probably partly due to a certain ambiguity concerning the question whether the captivity of soldiers in all of its manifestations is not, at least if occuring within international armed conflict, conclusively regulated in the Third Geneva Convention, which does not mention hostage-taking explicity. In the context of the Middle East conflict, legal appraisal is at least seemingly further impeded by the complicated background conditions present. On the occasion of the release of the Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit in October 2011 from five years of captivity in the custody of the Palestinian Hamas, the following article presents examples and background information on abductions of Israeli soldiers and comments on the sources and applicability of the prohibition of hostage-taking in humanitarian law.
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