...The world community ...must show Hamas that Gilad [Shalit]’s captivity is simply unacceptable ....
While the world is so quick to criticise the supposed humanitarian crisis in Gaza, there is a strange silence when it comes to Gilad Shalit and his freedom.
Four years in terrorist captivity is four years too long.
Please keep Gilad Shalit in your thoughts today, as well as Israel’s other missing in action soldiers,
- Ron Arad,
- Yehuda Katz,
- Zvi Feldman,
- Zacharia Baumel,
- Guy Hever and
- Majdi Halabi.
...From Jerusalem, to Rome, to New York, supporters of captive soldier Gilad Schalit on Thursday cried out for his release as they marked the eve of the fourth anniversary of his kidnapping.
In Rome, the lights of the Colosseum were turned off. So too, the lights around the Old City walls in Jerusalem.
Lighting up the darkness at the walls was a sign showing the number of days, 1,460, that Schalit had been held by Hamas in Gaza, along with the line, “This is the time I have spent in captivity.”
In New York, a flotilla of ships, called “The True Freedom Flotilla,” sailed from Pier 40 around the Statue of Liberty and past the buildings of the United Nations.
Addressing a crowd in Rome, Gilad’s father, Noam, asked the international community not to forget his son.
“As I stand here tonight, in the capital of Italy, Rome, which is one of the central, ancient and important cities in Europe and the civilized world, I call on the international community and the European one in particular not to forget Gilad,” said Noam.
He noted that Gilad had been made an honorary citizen of Rome and was a European citizen, since he had dual French-Israeli citizenship.
“I’m asking that the same international community, and the European one in particular, which pressured Israel to take humanitarian steps on behalf of the people of Gaza, would use all means available to them to pressure Hamas to take one small humanitarian step on behalf of one of its own citizens, on behalf of Gilad,” said Noam.
He added that his son’s release would bring freedom to hundreds of Palestinian prisoners who would be let out of Israeli jails as part of a swap.
“Those who ask that their rights be respected, just also respect the rights of others,” said Noam. “For four long years, our son Gilad, a young man of flesh and blood, who is now 23, has called out to us, a silent cry from the dark cellars of Hamas, a silent but resonant cry. He asks for only one thing: ‘Restore my freedom which was stolen from me four years ago,’” said Noam.
Call for Hamas to allow Schalit Red Cross visit
Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague issued a statement to commemorate the fourth anniversary of Schalit’s abduction and called for his “immediate and unconditional” release.
“Today marks the fourth anniversary of the abduction of Israeli soldier, Staff- Sgt. Gilad Schalit,” Hague said. “My thoughts are with Gilad’s parents today. I sincerely hope that they will soon be able to welcome their son home.”
Hague reiterated the British position, that Schalit’s release must be immediate and unconditional and that Hamas must allow the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) access to him.
“The UK has long called for Gilad Schalit’s immediate and unconditional release and we reiterate that call today. It is also vital that Hamas allows the International Committee of the Red Cross to visit Gilad immediately and ensure that he is in good health. His continued captivity without any ICRC access and with only very occasional, minimal contact with his family is utterly unacceptable.”
The foreign minister called on Hamas “to renounce violence and take immediate and concrete steps towards the Quartet principles and to free Gilad Schalit without delay.”
In New York, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Gabriela Shalev said, “For more than four years, the Hamas terrorist regime has denied Gilad Schalit’s most basic rights, as well as any visit from international organizations. This is illegal and morally appalling.
“It is shameful that so many who claim to vigorously support human rights are totally silent in the face of this injustice.”
Consul-General Asaf Shariv added, “It has been four years too long. Gilad Schalit has been held in captivity and deprived of humanitarian aid. He is being held as a prisoner with disregard to international law.
“Sadly, it is all too easy to see him as a symbol of yet another terrorist act. We know that Gilad is more than just that. Gilad is a son, a brother, and a friend. He is a young man who deserves to see the light of day, his parents and his country.
“The package of humanitarian aid that we attempt to deliver to Gilad, through the International Red Cross, is the very least he deserves. If delivered, this warranted act will be more than Gilad has seen since 2006.”
On Sunday, Gilad’s parents and their supporters plan to embark on an 11-day trek to Jerusalem from their home in the upper Galilee.