Yoel Schalit Protest 311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Noam Schalit, father of kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit, warned Tuesday that if more action is not taken to bring about the release of his son, the family might be forced to take more serious action.
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The elder Schalit, who spoke during an interview with Israel Radio, was reacting to the noisy outburst staged by his other son, Yoel, and others at the Independence Eve torch lighting ceremony, for which they were forcibly removed from the area on Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl by security personnel.
“I wasn’t there so I didn’t know exactly what they were going to do,” Noam Schalit said when asked whether he had advance notice of the protest. “They also didn’t know exactly what they had planned.”
Schalit stressed that he was not threatening a repeat of this kind of action, but did say that other measures would need to be taken if no results were seen regarding the return of his captive son.
Yoel Schalit interrupted the torch lighting ceremony with several other activists, who shouted and waved signs saying “Gilad is still alive.” No arrests were made in the incident.
Noam Schalit and his wife, Aviva, spent Independence Day in their protest tent across from the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem, where they have maintained a vigil for the past 10 months.
On Sunday, during a Remembrance Day speech at Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Israel was working behind the scenes for the captive soldier’s return.
But Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, speaking on France 24 television Monday, blamed Netanyahu for the delay in securing Schalit’s release.
“We hope negotiations will start again and I hope Netanyahu will not force us to kidnap other Israeli soldiers,” Mashaal said. “If the only way to release our prisoners is the imprisonment of more Israeli soldiers, then Israeli authorities and Netanyahu will have to bear the consequences of not having released our Palestinian prisoners.”