Faithful remain at Schalit tent

The tent has become a destination for tour groups.

Noam Schalit 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Noam Schalit 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The march is over, and most of the activists have gone home. But the faithful remain at the tent site outside the Prime Minister’s Residence with Gilad Schalit’s family, who insist they will stay there until the soldier returns home.
On Wednesday, Day 1,480 since Schalit’s abduction, the tent of activists protesting against what they say is government inaction continued to draw passersby – pedestrians and drivers – who asked for the yellow ribbons that have come to symbolize the hope for Schalit’s return.
The tent has become something of a tourist attraction, a new destination for tour groups in Jerusalem.
“We have made no progress with the government,” Noam Schalit, Gilad’s father, said, as he sat with his wife, Aviva, and friends in the crowded tent.
The white sheets laid out along the street have been nearly completely covered in hopeful messages directed toward Gilad. A lone passerby who found a small white patch in a far corner signed his name.
“We just live with it, it becomes just another story in the news,” said Baruch Avan, after writing on the sheet. “But I don’t think we could imagine what it’s like in a Palestinian jail. It’s a nightmare,” he said.
A week after the 11-day march for Schalit came to a close in the capital, advocates for Schalit’s safe return home have reported an increase in support.
With over 50,000 signatories since the campaign’s inception, Schalit’s captivity has pulled on the heartstrings of the Israeli people.
“They’re going to be here until what we hope is the happy end,” said Revital, an activist who declined to give her full name because she is a state employee.
Revital arrived at the tent on Wednesday from Kiryat Bialik.
Revital said she could assume that the Schalit family would be camped out for a while.
“We know that our government is slow,” she said, predicting a minimum one-month stay for the Schalit family.
The campaign is still riding the recent outpouring of support generated during the march, according to Schalit activists. Gregory, a soldier stationed outside the Prime Minister’s Residence, however, seemed skeptical of the movement’s staying power.
“Compared to a month ago, it’s definitely increased,” Gregory said.
“Give [the protest] two or three months, however, and it will go back to normal.”