Visitors flock to Schalit tent

Solidarity with the Schalits continues after 11-day march to Jerusalem

Schalit tent 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Schalit tent 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
A day after the rally that saw 15,000 people come out in support of St.-Sgt. Gilad Schalit in the capital on Thursday, volunteers continued to show solidarity with the kidnapped soldier by handing out bumper stickers and yellow ribbons at a tent in front of the Prime Minister’s Residence.
One of the volunteers, Dan Fishbein, from Kibbutz Afikim in the Galilee, who was among 150 who marched with the Schalits during the entire 11-day journey from their home in Mitzpe Hila to Jerusalem, said he was inspired by the image of Schalit suffering in captivity.
“There is a young man in tremendous pain right now, who hasn’t seen his family in 1,475 days,” Fishbein said.
“This needs to be the most important thing to consider.”
The tent is adorned with large cloth signs from the march bearing the signatures of thousands of people wishing Gilad Schalit well and hoping for his release.
On Friday morning, well-wishers passed by, giving encouragement to Schalit’s parents, Noam and Aviva.
They included people from all walks of life: haredim, Arabs, soldiers, the old and the young.
At one point, a tour bus pulled up, letting off 40 high school students from Yavneh College in London. One of the trip’s chaperones, Rabbi Andrew Davis, said that his students had seen the march as they toured the country and felt it was important to stop by the tent. There, they signed a cloth banner and briefly met with the Schalits to offer their support.
The public campaign has increased pressure on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to strike a deal with Hamas.
Netanyahu has said he is willing to trade 1,000 security prisoners for Schalit, but that he will not accept Hamas’s demand to include senior terrorists. He fears that they will return to violence.
Across the street from the tent, a man sits under a banner proclaiming it is too dangerous to make a trade for Schalit.
Fishbein said that he respected the man for expressing his opinion, and the manner in which he was doing it, but insisted that making a trade for Schalit was the right thing to do.
Schalit’s parents have pledged to camp outside the Prime Minister’s Residence until a deal is reached.