Schalit protest held near Barak's Tel Aviv home

Pelosi vows to work to free captive as soldier's father goes to Congress in effort to advance cause.

gilad schalit demo 248 88 (photo credit: Channel 2)
gilad schalit demo 248 88
(photo credit: Channel 2)
Some 100 demonstrators gathered outside Defense Minister Ehud Barak's Tel Aviv home early Friday afternoon calling on him to secure the release of captured IDF soldier Gilad Schalit. Among the demonstrators was a group of IDF reservists who sought to hand Barak a petition signed by some 500 officers and soldiers demanding that Barak "keep to his word" concerning efforts to free the captive. The protest came a day after US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi pledged to continue to fight for Schalit's release, welcoming his father, Noam Schalit, to Congress as part of efforts to help his cause. Schalit also met with John Kerry, who heads the Senate's Foreign Relations Committee, as part of a tour of Washington this week to have key American officials incorporate his son's situation into conversations on the peace process. Schalit hopes that as the new US administration and Congress intensify involvement with the Middle East conflict, it will provide new openings for securing the release of his son. Schalit was also due to meet with State Department officials, and on Wednesday met with representatives of the Jewish community in New York to help coordinate a campaign for awareness and action on Gilad's behalf. Pelosi, delivering Israeli Independence Day remarks Wednesday at the party organized by the Israeli Embassy in Washington, held up dog tags bearing the names of the three soldiers abducted in cross-border raids in 2006: Schalit, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. Schalit was kidnapped by Hamas and is believed to be alive and held captive in the Gaza Strip. The bodies of Regev and Goldwasser, taken by Hizbullah, were returned last year. Talking about the tags, Pelosi said, "I will hold onto them as a symbol of the sacrifices made - sacrifices far too great - for peace and security for the State of Israel. And I will also continue my efforts and my prayers for Gilad Schalit." Speaking on behalf of the Obama administration was Lawrence Summers, who directs the White House National Economic Council. Summers praised Israel's economic performance and said the Obama administration would work with Israel to press for peace. "Not peace at any price," he said. "Peace that protects the innocent, peace that ensures freedom, peace that gives no quarter to terror."