A letter to Gilad Schalit from his father Noam

It is from our house in Mitzpe Hilla in the Galilee that I write you this letter. I am seating facing your last photographs, taken last summer and as background sounds I listen to your broken, hesitant voice coming from the cassette that you recorded for us last week. It's all we have from you for the time being, after this long year of silence, this year that seemed as interminable for us as I am sure it seemed for you. You must certainly sense that mum and dad, your sister Hadas, your brother Yoel and the other members of the family who love you so much are terribly anxious. After such a long absence, we miss you so much. You cannot imagine to what extent we are worried about and to what degree you presence is missed! I am sure you know the suffering in which we live, the entire family suffered during this long year and I am convinced you know we are doing all we can to bring you back home. Many people in Israel, in Egypt, in France and the world over are working tirelessly for you release in return for the release of other Palestinian prisoners who also want to rejoin their families. We will not stop until we will have the joy of holding you in our arms here in the house. I hold on to the hope that you know that the state of Israel is obliged to release you and is ready to release hundreds of Palestinian prisoners so that you can return home safe and sound. It is so painful for us not hearing news from you, not knowing how you feel, how your health is. What is the severity of your injuries, how you are coping with this difficult period and how you are being treated by the organizations which are holding you captive. These organizations declare that you are a prisoner of war, but to my great regret they are not allowing you the conventional rights given to prisoners of war according to international law and according to the Islamic religion. This religion which instructs treating prisoners of war with humanity and dignity, granting them the rights they deserve and providing them with their needs. The rights which the State of Israel grants to every Palestinian prisoner whatever the reason for his incarceration. Despite your tender age, be strong dear Gilad and hang tight. I know this is a testing time, but do not crack, do not bend until your freedom. We shall do all in our power so that this freedom is near. We hope that the organizations will be charitable enough to transmit this letter from your parents to you without delay. Like all the Palestinian prisoners in Israel who have the joy and consolation of receiving and sending letters to their parents and their brothers. My dear Gilad, may we soon be reunited at home. We kiss you and love you. Mum and Dad