of protesters gathered at the Erez crossing on the Israel-Gaza border Sunday to commemorate the
6th birthday kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit has been forced to have in captivity since he was taken by terrorists in 2006.
Earlier, activists marched from the Yad Mordecai intersection to the Erez crossing holding protest signs and waving flags.
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number of Israeli musicians were set to perform at a makeshift stage
constructed by the activists, including David D'or and Amir Benayoun.
Schalit's father, Noam, was scheduled to speak later in the evening,
prior to releasing a number of doves as a gift to the kidnapped soldier
on his 25th birthday.
Likud MK Tzipi Hotovely was repeatedly booed while speaking at the rally, Israel Radio reported.
Hotovely told the crowd that Schalit was a captive of Hamas and not a
captive of the government of Israel. She stated that the way to bring
about his release was by ensuring that the leadership of Hamas felt
Her speech was interrupted by jeers from the crowd and calls against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
The crowd rejected Hotovely's contention that she came to support the Schalit family, saying she was merely seeking publicity.
Also on Sunday, French President
Nicolas Sarkozy and French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé sent letters to
Noam and Aviva Shalit to mark the 25th birthday of their son.
the letters, the French leaders said they would do everything in their
capacity to free Schalit. Sarkozy's letter was addressed to Gilad and
said, "Trust and be sure that I will do everything in my power to secure
On Sunday morning, Schalit's parents were joined by dozens of supporters in a protest
outside Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's Office in Jerusalem on
Sunday morning to mark the captured IDF soldier's 25th birthday.
Aviva, Gilad's mother, held a sign saying "Netanyahu, a birthday present for Gilad - his life back."
father Noam, who was holding a sign saying "Netanyahu, you don't have a
mandate to kill Gilad," said that it is hard for him to ask his son to
stay strong after more than five years in captivity.
"We are fighting a daily battle but we are still no closer to the day that Gilad is released," Noam told Israel Radio.
Schalit, Gilad's grandfather, blamed Netanyahu for not doing enough to
bring about the release of his grandson. During an interview with Israel
Radio on Sunday morning, Tzvi said that it is clear the public wants
Gilad to be released but the government, and more specifically the prime
minister, is ignoring those calls.
"Since Netanyahu has come into power, the situation has worsened," Tzvi said.
are working hard, but our demands are not being answered. It is not
true that they [the government] are doing everything they can," the
kidnapped soldier's grandfather said.
Tzvi spoke about the day
that Gilad was born and reminisced about the first time he saw him at
the hospital in Nahariya. "He is very much missing in the family," Tzvi