For the Shalit family it's been three years with nothing but a handful of fragmented slivers of information to keep the longing and worry for their son at bay. But on the eve of yet another painful milestone, there is optimism to be found; according to a poll conducted by the Rafi Smith Institute for Ynet half of Israelis believe Gilad Shalit will be freed within a year.
The study also found that 69% of adult Jewish Israelis support the release of Palestinian prisoners who have been directly involved in the terror attacks in exchange for Shalit. Twenty-three percent said they opposed the release of prisoners 'with blood on their hands,' and 8% did not disclose their opinion on the matter.
Gilad's father, Noam Shalit, said that figures correspond with the family's impression of public opinion. "It fits with what we hear on the street, with the letter we receive and in any forum where we come into contact with the Israeli public," he said.
The main rally marking the somber anniversary will be held in Tel Aviv on Thursday evening. "We've invited all the ministers and Knesset members, I hope they'll come and won't think the invitations we sent are meant to serve as desk ornaments," Shalit said.
The poll sought to examine the level of optimism Israelis feel in regards to the possibility of a positive outcome in the near future. Just over half, 51% of respondents, said they believed Shalit would be released within a year. On the opposite side 19% said there was little to no chance of seeing him freed by next year, 8% said they did not believe Shalit would ever be released, and 22% did not have an opinion either way.
Majority says Olmert didn't do enoughAs for the public's perception of the efforts to free Gilad? Noam Shalit said on Wednesday that he has lost faith in the system. "I have faith only in our own efforts. Only when words are translated into actions can we talk about trusting the system," he said.
Asked whether former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert did everything possible to free Shalit, 62% said he did not. Only a quarter of respondents said yes, and 13% did not have an opinion on the matter.
Comparatively, 18% described Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's handling of the Shalit case as "very good" or "good," 43% said there was some degree of mishandling, and 39% had no opinion.
The poll analysts attributed the high percentage of respondents who picked the neutral option to the very brief time the new government has had to work on the issue.
Netanyahu's appointee to the position of special envoy on Shalit, Hagai Hadas, has yet to meet with the Egyptian mediators.
However Noam Shalit has said in recent weeks that the family is more confident in Netanyahu's approach to their son's case than they were in Olmert's.