Schalit demo held outside Ashkenazi's home

Head of the Free Gilad campaign says IDF chief needs to be encouraged to lobby decision-makers.

For the first time in the campaign to free kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, a protest was held on Friday outside the Kfar Saba home of Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi. Although the army chief does not determine policy on the prisoner-swap issue, the demonstrators decided to gather outside his home to demand that he take a more active stance on Schalit, whom he had described as "my soldier." The tank gunner was abducted by Hamas outside Gaza on June 25, 2006. Until now, the campaign has steered clear of Ashkenazi's home, while holding protests outside the homes of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, as well as near the Defense Ministry. The head of the Free Gilad campaign, Shimshon Lidman, explained Friday's move to Army Radio. "As the one responsible for these soldiers, and we know that Ashkenazi knows this, he needs to be supported and encouraged to do what is required," Lidman said. "We've come here with a positive tone, to remind him that there is a soldier today who needs to be fought for in front of the decision-makers." The demonstrators brought placards and whistles and received strong support from passersby. Many of the dozens of participants were mothers of combat soldiers.