Schalits: No light at end of tunnel

Hamas: We won't pass on package from family

Noam and Aviva Schalit did not receive sweet tidings about their captive son Gilad when they spoke Tuesday with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem. The family had requested the Jerusalem meeting in advance of Rosh Hashana. It took place just two days after Netanyahu returned from Egypt, where he met with President Hosni Mubarak. Egypt is a third-party negotiator in the indirect talks between Israel and Hamas for the release of Gilad Schalit, who has been held in Gaza since he was kidnapped in June 2006. Noam Schalit did not want to discuss details of the meeting, which was also attended by Gilad's grandfather, Tzvi. Schalit told reporters he understood that there were continued efforts to bring his son home but they had not produced results. He added that he was no more optimistic at the end of the meeting than he had been when he walked in. "Work is being done, and people should be given the breathing space to exhaust those efforts," he said. "We conveyed to [Netanyahu] our impatience with the fact that it is the eve of Rosh Hashana and for the fourth year, Gilad is still in captivity." He added that "there is no light at the end of the tunnel." The Campaign to Free Gilad Schalit said Netanyahu had reiterated his commitment to bringing Schalit home, but that no news had come out of the meeting. As part of their ongoing efforts to secure the soldier's release and to try and send him some ray of comfort in the interim, the Schalit family and their neighbors in Mitzpe Hila on Monday sent a Rosh Hashana package for Gilad on a journey throughout the country. That same day, it traveled to Afula and Jerusalem, and on Tuesday it continued through towns that included Hadera, Herzliya, Haifa, Ra'anana and Tel Aviv. On Wednesday it will continue to Kfar Saba, Rosh Ha'ayin, Shoham, Ramle, Lod and the Karni crossing into Gaza. That afternoon, the Campaign to Free Gilad Schalit plans to hold a joint demonstration between Kibbutz Nahal Oz and the Karni crossing, in conjunction with a Gaza rally by families of Hamas prisoners held in Israeli jails. In exchange for Schalit, Hamas is demanding the release of at least 450 prisoners, including those responsible for murdering Israelis. On Thursday morning the Hamas families will give the Schalit campaign over 100 packages for their loved ones in Israeli jails. In turn, the campaign will give them the package for Schalit. Once the campaign is satisfied that Schalit has received the package, they will ensure that the Hamas prisoners receive the gifts from their families. The Arab media has reported that Hamas will not allow the package to be passed to Schalit.