'We want all prisoners released'
Photo: Ofer Amram
Israeli Arabs ask Mubarak to help Shalit
Residents of Kfar Kassem protest outside Egyptian Embassy in support of kidnapped soldier

Dozens of Kfar Kassem residents protested in front of the Egyptian Embassy in Tel Aviv Wednesday for the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit.


The protestors carried a letter addressed to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak asking him to aid the release of Shalit as well as the Palestinian prisoners demanded in return, and the opening of the Rafah crossing. "Who else can do it, Lieberman?" they asked in the letter.


Those present were equipped with signs in Hebrew, English, and Arabic, some of them plastered with pictures of the kidnapped soldier and Israeli flags, or faceless prisoners and Palestinian flags.


Malik Faraj, founder of the Candle for Peace and Harmony organization, which organized the demonstration, told Ynet Israeli Arabs were tired of the state's politicians.


"There are no foreign relations here because there is no foreign minister. No one in the Arab world recognizes Lieberman, and only Mubarak has the ability to execute this move," Faraj said.  

Protest in Tel Aviv (Photo: Ofer Amram)


"This is the message coming from the Arab people in Israel. We want peace and for all prisoners on both sides to be released. This way we can turn a new leaf over. We are sorry for Noam – Gilad is like a son to me and Noam is like a father. Enough with the comments about blood on the hands; there was a war, but now let's say enough!"


Faraj added that the demonstration had received support in Gaza. "The Gazans are happy that the Arabs in Israel have woken up, and we want to convey to them the message that there are good people here who want peace," he said.


As the protest went on, many passers by on the street in Tel Aviv clapped their hands and called out encouragement to the Kfar Kassem residents.


Ahmed Hataha, 26, explained that he was protesting in order to show that the Israeli-Arab youth also care about what happens to Shalit. "We speak about it a lot in the village, among us guys, and everyone wants the deal to go through," he said. "The bottom line is that Shalit is our age and we want him to live his life."


Ismail Badir, father of 11, explained he sees Shalit as his son. "I believe Mubarak can make this deal happen. Many Israelis are originally from Arab countries. We are cousins, so let's give each side back its people and start over on a new path," he said.


The Egyptian ambassador did not deign to come down and receive the letter, so the protestors gave it to his aide. They now plan to protest in front of the Knesset in order to affect Israeli politicians.


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