Schalit Rome 311.
(photo credit: Riccardo De Luca/AP)
ROME – Some 4,000 Romans including Jews, members of interfaith organizations,
Christian, Muslim and other friends of Israel, called for Gilad Schalit’s
release in a ceremony at Rome’s Colosseum on Thursday.
Rome to switch
off Colosseum lights for Schalit
The lights on the
ancient monument were turned off at 11 p.m. – coinciding with midnight
commemorations in Tel Aviv.
Simultaneously, similar events organized by
Italian Jewish youth groups and municipal authorities took place in
Florence, Varese and Turin.
Schalit’s photo was projected in front of the
Colosseum while government and Jewish community authorities made
“Israel will never, never be alone.
Israel’s right to
exist is beyond questioning,” Andrea Ronchi, Italy’s minister for
relations, repeated loudly.
Nicola Zingaretti, president of the Region of
Rome (from the opposition PD – Democratic Party) and Renata Spolverini,
president of the province (from the governing PdL – Liberty Party) each
strong calls for Schalit’s freedom.
Mayor Gianni Alemanno (PdL) announced
that Rome has named Schalit an honorary citizen. Now “hypocrites and
pacifists” are “keeping their distance from city hall” he said, adding
“Gilad’s face must never cease to disturb our consciences.”
recalled that once before, in 2008, the Colosseum’s lights had been
in protest against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s speech to the
Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome. “A threat to Israel is a
the entire world,” he said.
Schalit’s father, Noam, in Rome for the
occasion, made a moving appeal, and a video was shown featuring Italian
elementary school children reading the story Gilad Schalit wrote when he
“When the Shark and the Fish First Met.”
Giuliano Ferrara, editor of Il
Foglio, publicly predicted that “the little fish will eat the
Riccardo Pacifici, president of the Rome Jewish Community,
recalled that Human Rights Watch has defined Gilad’s continued forced
a case of torture now lasting four years. He noted the “significant
Amnesty International representatives at the commemoration, among
On their way back to the former Jewish Ghetto area, Jewish
participants clashed with supporters of the Free Gaza Movement who had
candles on the steps of city hall to commemorate the “11,000
confined in Israeli prisons without cause.”
The Rome Jewish Community
said the pro-Palestinian activists were armed with chains and knives,
Palestinians claimed they were victims of an attack. Two
activists, diagnosed with a concussion and a broken jaw, respectively,
The police are examining televised records of the clashes
to ascertain the truth behind the two conflicting versions.
conciliatory gesture, Pacifici offered to visit Gaza together with
Salman, the representative of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society in
“provided he will accept the presence of a representative of Israel’s
Gianpiero Gioffredi, a leader of the Democratic Party, said that
“ever more frequently, legitimate criticism of Israeli political
degenerates into a delegitimization of the Israeli state and
disguised as anti-Zionism.”