Schalits hold protest holiday dinner

Family and friends of captive soldier eat Rosh Hashana dinner outside prime minister's home.

By JUDY SIEGEL
September 28, 2008 22:36
2 minute read.
Schalits hold protest holiday dinner

noam schalit 224 88. (photo credit: Channel 10)

 
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The family and friends of captive soldier Gilad Schalit held a Rosh Hashana dinner Monday night outside the Jerusalem home of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to protest the government's failure to secure his release from Hamas. For the family, who last saw their 22 year-old son in June 2006, this is their third New Year without him. "Just like the last ones, we are not celebrating," Gilad's father, Noam, told The Jerusalem Post. But unlike the previous years they do not plan to sit in their Mitzpeh Hila home in the upper Galilee. "For us, this is not a holiday, there is no happiness," Noam said. Instead, in a move of solidarity with their son, they will set out a table outside Olmert's home with very basic food, the kind they imagine that Gilad would have in Gaza. Earlier in the day in an interview with Army Radio, Gilad's mother, Aviva, said that everyone else in Israel but her son would be able to raise a glass to toast a sweet year, but he would likely be given only stale pita, just like every other night. It is doubtful, she said, he would even know it was the New Year. To her son, she said, "Be strong and do not break. We're working ceaselessly to secure your release." The negotiations for Schalit's release had been stalled partially as a result of continuing arguments over the list of Hamas prisoners who would be released as part of a swap. Earlier this month, a ministerial committee approved a list of 450 Hamas prisoners that could be freed. The list has yet to be approved either by Olmert or the cabinet. Media reported on Thursday that negotiator Ofer Dekel was heading to Cairo for more talks on Schalit's release with the Egyptians mediators. Neither the Prime Minister's Office or the Defense Ministry would confirm the report. Meanwhile, 3,000 Rosh Hashana cards will be brought to representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Tel Aviv on Monday to be transferred to Schalit. The initiative is that of the British Zionist Federation and its director, Alan Aziz, who is currently visiting Israel. The cards, written in English, will be delivered personally by the British ambassador to Israel. The ICRC has agreed to transfer them to its representatives in Gaza, who have contacts with Hamas. However, all attempts by ICRC representatives to get anything through to Schalit or to visit him to ensure humanitarian conditions have failed since his capture. Aziz, who concedes there is "no assurance that the cards will reach Schalit," told the Post that he was not aware of anyone who had tried to do this before. It was initiated only a few weeks ago, so there was no time to include Hebrew-speaking Israelis in the project, he added.

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