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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Hundreds mark Gilad Shalit's 1,700th day in captivity with rally outside Netanyahu's house

Prime minister's office releases statement saying Netanyahu feels the pain of the Shalit family and that actions to return Gilad safe and sound are continuing.

The family of kidnapped Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit marked the 1,700th day of his captivity on Saturday along with hundreds of supporters in front of the prime minister's residence in Jerusalem.

Shalit was captured by Gaza-based militants in a cross-border raid in 2006.

Negotiations between Israel and Hamas over his return in exchange for the release of Hamas prisoners have thus far been fruitless.

Speaking at the ceremony across from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's house, Aviva Shalit said they were there "screaming Gilad's plea to Netanyahu, who is behind these dark windows, but there is no answer."

Shalit slammed Netanyahu for his failure to secure her son's release, saying the only thing happening was "talk."

The prime minister's office released a statement responding to the rally, saying Netanyahu "along with the rest of Israel identify with the Shalit family and feel their pain."

"We say to the prime minister: Enough talk, enough explanation, enough chirping, enough is enough," Aviva Shalit said.

"1,700 days of the continuous failure of the Israeli government – the previous and current one. 1,700 days of indescribable suffering, days of missing [Gilad], of hope, of longing for freedom."

According to the prime minister's statement, "actions to return Shalit safe and sound are currently continuing."

"These activities yielded the first video recording of Gilad," the statement continued.

"Netanyahu is also responsible for the peace and security of the citizens of Israel. Thus the prime minister stands firm with the position that dangerous terrorists wont be released back to the West Bank , where they are able to carry out terrorist attacks in Israel," the statement concluded.

At the rally Aviva Shalit pleaded with decision makers to imagine how Gilad is "surviving with no hope on the horizon."

"I want my son returned," Aviva Shalit said in conclusion.

Riding for Gilad |

On Saturday, December 26, dozens of bikers rode to Jerusalem and pulled up in front of the Prime Minister's Residence. Their destination was a small tent, where for many months the parents of Gilad Schalit have been sitting, hoping against hope that something can be done to rescue their son from the hands of Hamas.

Schalit was captured by militants of the Palestinian organization in a cross-border raid in June 2006, and has since been held captive in Gaza, with no access to his parents or even the Red Cross. Negotiations for his release have been touch and go at the best of times, but the latest round of talks have fallen through ago and optimism is in short supply in the small Schalit outpost on the corner of Gaza Street.