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