Gilad Schalit cutout seen through yellow ribons 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Amir Cohen)
Hundreds of people began gathering at the Schalit family tent set
up outside the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem Saturday
afternoon to offer their support to the family's demand that their son,
Gilad, be released from Hamas captivity in the Gaza Strip. Saturday
marks the fifth anniversary of Gilad Schalit's kidnapping by Hamas
terrorists along the Gaza border.Zvi
Schalit, the grandfather of captive IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, said
Saturday that Defense Minister Ehud Barak is attempting to broker a
prisoner exchange with Hamas. Speaking at a rally held at Kerem Shalom,
the site where he was captured, he told the crowd that conflicts with
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu were delaying progress, Israel Radio
At 7 p.m., a rally is planned
at the Cesarea Museum near Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's private
residence in a planned show of public pressure on the prime minister to
advance a prisoner exchange deal that would free the IDF soldier. The
event, which is being billed as a "march on Cesarea," is intended to
show the prime minister that "his political future is directly related
wellbeing and release of Gilad," organizers said.
Group protests state’s failure to bring Schalit home
Hamas: Revoking prisoners' privileges is against int'l law
at 8 p.m., a 24-hour live broadcast will begin showing various
celebrities and former POWs sitting inside a makeshift dark closet-like
prison cell - for one hour each - to reflect the conditions of captivity
Schalit is living in. The webcast can be viewed on JPost.com.
Sunday at 8:30 a.m., supporters are expected to join the weekly protest
held by Gilad's parents, Noam and Aviva, outside the weekly cabinet
meeting in Jerusalem. Noting the fifth anniversary of Schalit's
kidnapping and the failure of government efforts to release him, the
protesters plan to ask government ministers: "Dear Minister, five years
have past. In captivity there is no tomorrow. When will you save Gilad?"
Later Saturday, Barak responded through a Defense Ministry statement,
which said, "Contrary to reports, Minister Ehud Barak does not accept
Hamas's stance in relation to the terms of the [Schalit] deal." The
statement added, "As Defense Minister Barak has said many times in the
past, every possible and suitable move should be taken in order to bring
about the release of Gilad, but not at any price." Barak, the statement
continued "sees the importance of continuing and finding a way to
formulate a deal that meets Israel's basic demands."
with the somber anniversary, the United States on Friday called on
Hamas to "release [kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit] immediately,"
criticizing the Gaza group's violation of "international humanitarian
Ambassador to Israel Christophe Bigot on Saturday delivered a letter
from French President Nicolas Sarkozy to the family of captive soldier
Gilad Schalit at their protest tent in Jerusalem.
In the letter,
which addresses the captive soldier directly, Sarkozy said, "I cannot
accept that you are not permitted to have simple communications," urging
his captors to allow the Red Cross to meet with him. "It is time for
those responsible for your captivity make a decision and end your
imprisonment," Army Radio reported.
US joined France, and Ban Ki-moon of the UN Friday calling for the
soldier's immediate release on humanitarian grounds, criticizing the
groups disregard for a recent International Red Cross call on Hamas to
allow Schalit's family contact with their son who is entering his sixth
year in captivity on June 25.
"has not forgotten Gilad Schalit," French Foreign Affairs Minister
Alain Juppe said on Friday in a special communique published on the
website of the French Embassy in Israel, a day before the Schalit family
marks five years since their son was captured by Hamas.
Meanwhile, officials in the Gaza Strip said that meeting their demands is the only way the captive soldier can be returned home.
for Gaza's Popular Resistance Committee Abu Mujahid said that Schalit
will not be released until all of his captors' demands are met, Army
Radio reported. He also mentioned French involvement in efforts to
release Schalit while threatening more kidnappings. "Gilad was not
kidnapped in Paris - he was a soldier whose mission was to kill women
and children," Abu Mujahid said.
Earlier this week, 12 human rights organizations called for an immediate end to Hamas's "inhumane and illegal treatment" of the captured soldier.
General of the UN Ban Ki-moon also called on Friday for the immediate
release of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit, pledging continued
support of the UN for achieving this goal.