‘Is­rael­could­do­more­forGi­lad’

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY MIRIAM SHA­VIV

THE FA­THER of Gi­lad Shalit, the Is­raeli sol­dier kid­napped by Ha­mas, has blasted the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment for not do­ing enough to free his son.

“Af­ter 500 days in cap­tiv­ity, I don’t see any re­sults,” Noam Shalit told the JC from his home in Galilee. “On the level of talk­ing, they’re do­ing enough, but on the level of ac­tion, not.”

Gi­lad Shalit, now 21, was taken by Pales­tini­ans from an army post on the Gaza Strip border in June 2006. More than a year later, his fa­ther says the fam­ily has not even be­gun to come to terms with his cap­ture. “There is no pos­si­bil­ity of deal­ing with such a thing,” he said. “Re­al­ity con­tin­ues, but there is no way to deal with it.”

The fam­ily is get­ting used to the idea that in a few months’ time, Gi­lad’s younger sis­ter Hadas, 17, will join the army, “if there is no change”.

Mean­while, he says, they are still re­ceiv­ing wide­spread sup­port from “all around the coun­try. We re­ceive lots of let­ters from chil­dren and emails.”

But Mr Shalit is con­cerned that the sup­port will dis­si­pate if the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment is re­quired to free Pales­tini­ans “with blood on their hands” in re­turn for Gi­lad’s re­lease.

“There is a large seg­ment of the pop­u­la­tion which ob­jects to free­ing ter­ror­ists,” he said. “I hope they re­mem­ber that the mitz­vah of re­deem­ing cap­tives is among the most im­por­tant.”

Mr Shalit de­scribed Gi­lad as “quiet, shy, an in­tro­vert. He didn’t go out par­ty­ing a lot, he liked be­ing at home. He want­ed­to­beina­com­bat­u­ni­tand­found it hard, but he fin­ished the train­ing.”

Since his cap­ture, Gi­lad has not been vis­ited by hu­man-rights or­gan­i­sa­tions and re­ports from Ha­mas re­gard­ing his health are con­flict­ing. The only real sign of life came in June, when Ha­mas re­leased an au­dio tape of Gi­lad. Mr Shalit would only say that “lis­ten­ing to Gi­lad’s voice was hard”.

To keep aware­ness high, the Shal­its are work­ing closely with the fam­i­lies of the other ab­ducted sol­diers, Ehud Gold­wasser and El­dad Regev. On Tues­day, Jewish com­mu­ni­ties around the world held prayer vig­ils for the three as part of a World Sol­i­dar­ity Day.

Last week, Mr Shalit was in Paris to at­tend the in­au­gu­ra­tion of a site fea­tur­ing pic­tures of the three, along with a cap­tion re­lat­ing the cir­cum­stances of their ab­duc­tion. Gi­lad holds dual Is­raeli-French cit­i­zen­ship through his pa­ter­nal grand­mother.

“We are in con­stant con­tact with the French Jewish com­mu­nity, who are very sup­port­ive,” said Mr Shalit. “The For­eign Min­istry is also in con­tact with the French gov­ern­ment, who deal with the sub­ject on a con­tin­ual ba­sis.”

Asked whether the fam­ily has any plans for Gi­lad when he re­turns, Mr Shalit said: “There is no time to plan. The un­cer­tainty is so great, we don’t know what will be in an hour’s time.”

The fa­ther of kid­napped IDF sol­dier Gi­lad Shalit at the launch of a dis­play about him in Paris last week

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