The parents of kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit turned down Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s appeal Monday to leave their protest tent in front of his Jerusalem residence and return home for the holidays, saying nothing has happened over the last eight months that would justify taking a break from their vigil.

“Unfortunately, Gilad is spending his fifth Rosh Hashana in Hamas cellars in Gaza,” Noam Schalit, Gilad’s father, told journalists after holding a two-hour meeting with Netanyahu. The prime minister was joined in the meeting by his wife, Sara, and Hagai Hadas, his point-man on the issue.

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“For eight months, nothing has happened, except for words,” Schalit said.

“We didn’t see anything happen except for the lifting of the civilian blockade in Gaza after the Turkish flotilla fiasco.”

Schalit said there is no activity with the German mediator, no pressure being placed on Hamas, and no effort to gain “bargaining chips,” while those chips that were in Israel’s hands – Hamas legislators in Israeli jails – have for the most part been released. In addition, he said, there has been no sign of life from Gilad since Hamas released a video tape of him a year ago.


The Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement saying that Netanyahu and Hadas updated the Schalits on the varied efforts to bring about the release of their son, and that the efforts would continue “without respite.” They also briefed the Schalits on what was said about the matter last week in Washington during the launching of the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

According to the statement, the Netanyahus appealed to Noam and Aviva Schalit to “spend the holiday at home in order to garner strength, and return here afterward.”

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