Netanyahu Tells Shalit Family to Take a Break

Published: September 8th 2010
in News » Israel

A February 2009 banner in support of Gilad Shalit.
Pic: wikimedia commons

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Shalit family to take a break and enjoy the holidays in their home. The remark was made Sunday when Netanyahu hosted Gilad Shalit’s parents in his official residence.


He told Gilad’s parents, "I understand that you plan to remain at the protest tent over Rosh Hashanah, but we suggest that you celebrate the holiday at your home, to gain strength, and return to the protest tent after the holiday."


"We know that you traveled a short distance today from the tent, but we hope that our next meeting will be at your home in the Galilee, together with Gilad," Netanyahu added.


Gilad Shalit, the soldier captured by Hamas in a cross-border raid in 2006, has been held in captivity for the last 1,534 days. For this reason, according to a report in Haaretz, his parents responded to Netanyahu saying that as in previous years, they will not celebrate the upcoming holidays.


 “Unfortunately we have not yet reached a point at which we can take a break and rest,” said Noam Shalit, Gilad’s father.  “Gilad too, can’t take a break from captivity.”


Noam made the comment on Monday, assuring Netanyahu that he and his wife will not depart from their protest tent just across the street from the Prime Minister’s official residence.


Gilad’s parents have lived in the protest tent for the last couple months in a push for restarting negotiations with Hamas to secure their son’s freedom. The negotiation involves the freeing of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for their son.


In 2007, Hamas created a list of names of Palestinian prisoners they wanted freed in exchange for Gilad’s freedom. The result was a the appearance of letter that was later confirmed to contain Gilad’s handwriting along with a video of Gilad reading a paper and expressing his longing for freedom.


In spite of Netanyahu’s reassurance to the parents that efforts to secure Gilad’s freedom were scheduled to continue in the near future using different approaches, Noam has little hope. His disdain for what he believes to be a lack of action on Netanyahu’s part has driven him to stand his ground at the protest tent.


"It has been eight months since anything besides talks has happened," Noam Shalit said. "Today there are no negotiations with Hamas, there is no pressure being applied, and unfortunately we also don't have any bargaining chips."


"We must bring him back before there is no one left to bring back," he said.

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