Schalit family 'yearns for sign of life'

Peres Road still long a

For the first time in more than three years, Noam and Aviva Schalit will be able to see their captive son Gilad's face in a short, up-to-date video they are expected to receive on Friday. Schalit was only 19 when he was kidnapped by Hamas in June 2006, while patrolling the Gaza border. He is now 23. In a statement released to the press on Wednesday when news of the tape was publicized, the Schalit family said it was "yearning to receive" such "an authentic sign of life." The last such sign the Schalits received was a letter in June 2008. They last heard their son's voice when an audio cassette arrived from him in June 2007. The family also received letters from him, in February 2008 and in September 2006. This newest sign of life, the Schalit family said, "was the first significant achievement" of the new negotiating team led by Hagai Hadas, which was put in place after Netanyahu took office. "We wish to stress that although this is a first step in the right direction, the family will not rest until Gilad is freed after almost 1,200 days in which he has been held in a Hamas prison. Both sides must continue the determined process that has recently begun, until the final result is quickly achieved," the statement concluded. Defense Minister Ehud Barak spoke with Noam Schalit on Wednesday night, Israel Radio reported.