Schalit's friends hold protest seder in Jerusalem

Friends of captive IDF soldier hold festive Passover meal outside PM's residence; family not present.

aviva schalit mother tent 248 88 aj (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
aviva schalit mother tent 248 88 aj
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Several dozen activists from the Friends of Gilad Schalit organization held a Seder outside the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem on Wednesday evening. The activists were protesting what they perceived as the government's inaction regarding Schalit's continued imprisonment by Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Schalit has been held for 1,018 days. The meal was tinged with sadness, as Pessah is the festival of freedom from Egyptian slavery and has come to symbolize other instances in which the Jewish people were freed from oppression. Yoav Balaks, Gilad Schalit's platoon commander and a member of the group, expressed hope that Schalit would be present at next year's Pessah meal. The participants sat around a table where a chair was occupied only by a flag and Schalit's picture, and was wrapped in barbed wire, symbolizing the soldier's continued captivity. Prime ministerial security guards and police officers looked on as the ceremony proceeded quietly. "The struggle won't end until Gilad is back," a sign read in both Hebrew and English. Noam and Aviva Schalit, the soldier's parents, were not present, although they met with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday for the first time since he took office. "We have no reason to be optimistic. Gilad's freedom does not appear to be on the horizon. I hope that things will begin to move in a more significant fashion," a pessimistic Noam Schalit told reporters after Monday's meeting. He refused to elaborate on the details of the couple's conversation with the prime minister. Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.