Kid­nap cam­paign­ers pe­ti­tion gov­ern­ment

The Jewish Chronicle - - HOME NEWS - BY BERNARD JOSEPHS

A SE­NIOR White­hall of­fi­cial has pledged that the re­lease of three cap­tured Is­raeli sol­diers is high on the gov­ern­ment’s agenda.

He re­vealed that Bri­tish diplo­mats have been in con­tact with their op­po­site num­bers in Le­banon and the Pales­tine Author­ity in a bid to free them.

The state­ment came on Wed­nes­day from Neil Wi­gan, head of the For­eign Of­fice’s Arab, Is­rael and North African De­part­ment, who re­ceived a pe­ti­tion with 11,500 sig­na­tures call­ing on Bri­tain to press for the re­lease of re­servists Ehud Gold­wasser and El­dad Regev, kid­napped by Hizbol­lah last sum­mer, and Cor­po­ral Gi­lad Shalit, be­ing held in Gaza by Ha­mas gun­men.

Mr Gold­wasser and Mr Regev are be­lieved to have been se­ri­ously wounded dur­ing their ab­duc­tion, al­though Cor­po­ral Shalit is thought to be in good health.

The pe­ti­tion, or­gan­ised by Chris­tian Friends of Is­rael and the Zion­ist Fed­er­a­tion was sup­ported by more than 100 MPs who signed a Com­mons mo­tion call­ing for Hizbol­lah and Ha­mas to re­lease the three with­out con­di­tions.

It was re­ceived by Mr Wi­gan at a packed and emo­tional meet­ing in a par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee room where hun­dreds of Jewish and Chris­tian sup­port­ers of Is­rael lob­bied MPs.

In the pres­ence of Mr Gold­wasser’s wife, Kar­nit, he said the gov­ern­ment “recog­nises the suf­fer­ing of the sol­diers’ fam­i­lies and I want to as­sure you that from the Prime Min­is­ter down this is a mat­ter that is high on our agenda.”

In an im­pas­sioned ad­dress, Mrs Gold­wasser said that the fam­ily had not heard a word about her hus­band or about Mr Regev. “We know for sure that when they were cap­tured they were alive. We have spo­ken to peo­ple — too many peo­ple — who were in cap­tiv­ity and they have told us that a day in those con­di­tions is like a life­time. I have known my hus­band for nine years and I know he is sit­ting there and that he knows I am do­ing all I can to bring him home. When he is free, I will bring him here to thank you.”

The most dif­fi­cult thing, she said, was re­turn­ing home to an empty house. “I will never get used to it, and I ask you, please do not stop rais­ing your voice.”

Other speak­ers at the meet­ing in­cluded MPs Louise Ell­man, Lee Scott and Alan Beith, Likud MK Gi­don Sa’ar and Is­rael’s deputy am­bas­sador in Lon­don, Talia Lador Fresher.

For­eign Of­fice of­fi­cial Neil Wi­gan, right, with Kar­nit Gold­wasser, ZF pres­i­dent Eric Moon­man (sec­ond right), and Ge­of­frey Smith of the Chris­tian Friends of Is­rael (far left) Photo: John Rifkin

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