Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva 311.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Over half a million signatures from Latin America have been garnered over the past two weeks, demanding the direct involvement of Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in the efforts to release captive IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, the AMISRAEL organization informed Schalit's father Noam during a press conference in Jerusalem on Thursday. The group hopes to reach the million-mark within another two weeks. In addition, the Brazil-based non-profit organization, dedicating to promoting peace and support of Israel, presented resolutions passed by the parliaments of fifteen Latin American states recognizing the violation of Shalit’s human rights and demanding his release.
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Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger noted the special significance of the mitzvah of redeeming a prisoner, the most meaningful of the benevolent deeds between people, and the weight powerful states like Brazil could have on expediting Schalit's release. Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein evoked the powerful image of the Chilean miners being retrieved from their temporary telluric captivity, who unlike Schalit had each other for support and console, and spent 69 days underground compared to Schalit's 1579, as of Thursday. “People all around the world must follow AMISRAEL's example and cry out the simple message – free Gilad,” Edelstein said.
“It is moving to see how Gilad's release has become a global issue,” Noam Schalit said, and continuing Edelstein's metaphor, noted that the mechanism to retrieve his son was here in Jerusalem, where Israel's decision makers must reach “brave decisions” on the topic.
“We believe that a true commitment to human rights requires a commitment
to support peace and security for Israel, and in particular the
immediate release of Gilad Schalit,” said Dr. William Soto,
International Director and Founder of AMISRAEL who flew in from Brazil
especially for the event. “By gathering broad support from peoples of
diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds, we also hope to show the
people of Israel that they are not alone, and that there is a strong
community rallying to support their rights.”