"I have been told that the involvement of the French lawyers is likely to harm the negotiations for the release of Gilad, but there currently is momentum that we cannot overlook," Noam Shalit, father of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, said alongside lawyers he has hired at a press conference on Wednesday.
In addition to being an Israel citizen, Gilad also has French citizenship.
Shalit's family hired two French attorneys last month in an attempt to meet with the Israeli soldier's kidnappers. The two, Emmanuel Altit and Stephane Zerbib, said that they have been invited to visit the Strip in order to meet with senior Hamas members.
At the press conference on Wednesday, the lawyers said that they were waiting for permission from the Israeli authorities to enter the Gaza Strip in order to speak with the senior Islamic organzation's leaders about Gilad's release. As of right now, Israel has barred the legal representatives from entering the Palestinian enclave.
The Shalit family has instructed the attorneys to pass along the message to Hamas that Gilad is also a French citizen and represents a humanitarian case for the Europeans.
Shalit and French lawyers at press conference (Photo: Yaron Brenner)
Altit said that he and his colleague feel that they have found a way to raise awareness for Gilad. "To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time that there is mobilization in the name of the Israeli soldier," the lawyer said.
The lawyers received an official invitation to meet with Hamas people in Gaza and that was their main reason for coming to Israel. They noted that they were in contact with the Egyptian authorities as well as with Israel and Hamas. According to them, all sides are aware of their activities and they are hoping to receive permission to enter into Gaza.
"We understand the security sensitivity but it’s a shame not to take advantage of the momentum," one of them said.
When they were asked why did not choose to enter Gaza via an alternative route, they said they were aware of the security situation in Gaza and would thus only enter with Israeli authorization. "We're responsible people with families and we won't put ourselves in danger."
Noam Shalit added that he had brought the matter up with Israel officials and received no cooperation. He said the lawyers activities are not meant to replace Israeli efforts on behalf of his son adding that the attorneys job was to pass along a message to Hamas in the name of the European community thus giving his son's captors another motive to release him.