Noam Schalit: Time for declarations is over

At J'lem rally marking 2 years since Gilad Schalit's capture, his father accuses Olmert of dawdling.

Noam Schalit rally 2 224 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Noam Schalit rally 2 224
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Aviva and Noam Schalit's lawyers wrote to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Tuesday, asking him to let them know within 48 hours when the security cabinet will meet to discuss the release of their son Gilad from Gaza. The letter came a day after the High Court of Justice rejected the Schalits' petition charging that the security cabinet had not realized their son's release was left out of last week's cease-fire deal with Hamas and demanding that it meet to reconsider its decision to approve the agreement. Speaking at a rally in front of the prime minister's residence on Tuesday night, two years to the day since his son was kidnapped by Hamas at the Gaza border, Noam Schalit said the time for excuses was over. "You do not have all the time in the world. The time has come to act. It's now or never," he said. "Gilad's life is in danger. If the foot-dragging continues there won't be anyone left to save." As he spoke, a thousand supporters filled the street waving large blue flags with his son's photograph on them. The family received a letter from Gilad earlier this month, Noam said. Then, as if he were addressing the absent prime minister directly, he said, "Gilad pled with you to free him. You sent him on the mission from which he did not return. It is your moral duty to return him." In Tuesday's letter, Noam and Aviva argued that once the Israel-Gaza border crossings were opened in accordance with the cease-fire agreement, Israel would have no leverage to force Hamas to release Gilad. Although the court rejected their petition, the justices emphasized that they understood from the government that Olmert intended to convene the security cabinet again to discuss Schalit's release. But in their letter to the prime minister, lawyers Ariel Bendor, Eldad Yaniv and Sharon Strauss stressed that the security cabinet meeting must be held soon, before the situation at the border crossings changed irretrievably. "We would appreciate it if you notify us immediately, and no less than 48 hours after receiving this letter, when the cabinet will convene to discuss the matter of St.-Sgt. Gilad Schalit," they wrote to Olmert. Asked what the lawyers would do if the prime minister did not respond within 48 hours, Bendor told The Jerusalem Post it was inconceivable that Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz would not explain to Olmert that in light of the High Court decision, he had to convene the security cabinet immediately. In its decision on Monday, the court wrote: "We considered issuing a show-cause order [to convene the security cabinet to discuss Schalit] but decided not to, given the undesirable implications of such a move and our awareness that even without a court order the security cabinet will meet again to examine its decision [to approve the opening of the border crossings without Schalit's release.]"