“I have met the families, and I can see that the people of Beit Hanoun are peace-seeking and not involved in terror, and they only want to provide for themselves,” he added.
Noam Shalit and Atamna family members outside hospital (Photo: Niv Calederon)
“I feel that the Atamna family and the other families who lost their loved ones are exactly like the Slotzker family in Sderot and my family in the Galilee. We are all victims of the same madness, the same incessant wars and illogical violence, from firing rockets towards populated centers, to two terribly erroneous shells, the common denominator is that the civilian population pays the price,” Shalit said.
Shalit also spoke of his regret over the injured children that lay unconscious in the hospital, and that they were the ones paying the price of “these useless wars”. He urged the Israeli government and Palestinian leaders to “end the violence which brings more violence and hatred in a perpetual cycle that must be broken”.
Regarding the question of whether Israel’s new actions were endangering his son’s life, Shalit said that his son never had an insurance policy in the first place as long as he was in Gaza.
“We aren’t looking to see who is to blame or who started it, I hope there will be developments in negotiations with a new Palestinian government that will allow for a fresh start when all this madness ends soon,” Shalit said.
'More could be done to bring home Gilad'He did however criticize the government’s efforts to release his son and said, “In reality, the government isn’t doing enough since it is now close to five months that Gilad is not with us. It’s obvious that more could be done to bring him home, both from our government’s side and the Palestinian government’s side.”
“It is time to end this affair. So much suffering has been caused since the July 25 to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, there is pressure in the Strip from the siege and the Palestinians also have to understand that they won’t solve the issue of the prisoners on Gilad’s expense,” he explained.
“One of the main obstacles in bringing Gilad home is that the Hamas leadership is in Damascus and unfortunate won’t head our calls. Unfortunately, they don’t see the suffering of the Palestinian people, the residents of the Gaza Strip, and they are apparently living the good life in Damascus,” Shalit said.
Members of the Atamna family and other families who’s loved ones were hospitalized at the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center stood beside Shalit the entire time he spoke. Shalit connected with the families and gave them his telephone number so that they could remain in contact.
Rasan Gasan, whose brother Basem died of his wounds in the hospital Friday after being injured in Beit Hanoun, said, “I want to thank Gilad’s father for coming to visit us. It breaks our hearts, more than they are already broken, that this man’s heart breaks for us.”
“I hope his son is brought him soon, and I ask both governments, enough, stop. They are continuing negotiations through blood shed when it’s better to sit at a table of peace and speak eye to eye. We can reach an agreement through peace not bloodshed,” Gasan said.
Usama Ahmed Atamna, who lost 18 members of his family, also blessed Shalit and said, “I truly thank Gilad’s father for the visit, and I pray that his son is returned home safe and sound and that it will bring an end to the tragedy we had at home.”