Aviva and Noam Shalit leave their home
Photo: Doron Golan

Noam Shalit: We'll protest as long as it takes

Kidnapped soldier's parents move into protest tent outside PM's official residence in Jerusalem; captive's father demands Olmert end affair before leaving office. Bereaved parents opposing prisoner release to demonstrate in same place

Kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit's parents, Noam and Aviva, moved into a protest tent outside Ehud Olmert's official Jerusalem residence Sunday morning, after the outgoing prime minister said over the weekend that the demonstrations calling for Shalit's release were unhelpful.


The Shalits left their home in the northern community of Mitzpe Hila on Saturday night and headed to the capital, where they planned to stay in the protest tent from the morning hours.


Shortly before arriving at the prime minister's residence, Noam Shalit told Ynet, "We'll sit outside his house so that he sees us when he wakes up in the morning, when he leaves the house, when he comes back. So that he doesn't forget us before leaving this house for good.


"I don’t think he has really forgotten about us, but the fact is that nothing has changed in the past 1,000 days since Gilad was kidnapped."


Shalit demanded that Olmert and his government bring back his son "before the end of their tenure".


Asked whether his family had been pressured not to launch the protest outside the prime minister's residence, Shalit said that no direct appeal had been made, but that Olmert "implied in remarks made Friday that the protest disrupted the efforts made on Gilad's matter. I think that nothing has been done during the three years in which we kept quiet and didn't disrupt things and didn't protest."


Addressing the change of government in Israel, the captive's father said, "We demand unequivocally that the current government does not leave this issue for the next government to deal with."


Parents vs. prisoner release

Turning his attention to Hamas, Shalit called on the Palestinian group to complete the prisoner swap deal as soon as possible.


"Close to 1.5 million of Gaza's residents are being held hostage against Gilad because of Hamas' insistence that its men be released. They leave in disgraceful poverty and under a siege. The implementation of this deal could pull the plug and advance their release from the grave situation they are in."


Bereaved parents opposing the release of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the kidnapped soldier plan to set up another protest tent opposite the Shalit family's tent. The Bereaved families plan to demonstrate outside the cabinet meeting.

Heading to Jerusalem (Photo: Doron Golan)


Along list of organizations issued statements of support Sunday morning for Noam and Aviva Shalit's decision to move into the protest tent, and called on the public to join them.


"In the next two weeks, before Olmert's term ends, a fatal decision will be made on whether Gilad will return in the near future or stay in Gaza for an unlimited period of time," the organizations said. "The responsibility to bring Gilad Shalit back is your (Olmert's) mission. Leave a clean slate."


'No other way but to accept their demands'

Talking to Israel Radio, Gilad's grandfather, Zvi Shalit, said he also planned to join the protest tent.


"We have come to realize that Gilad is not being saved. They won't accept the kidnappers' demands, and there is no other way but to accept their demands. I don’t think the protests for Gilad's release are causing any change on the abductors' part. They want us to accept their demands."


The kidnapped soldier's grandfather added, "We have every right to demand Gilad's rescue. All those who have reservations over this issue should know that the time component, which is almost three years soon, helps accept this demand – saving Gilad."


He also criticized those criticizing the protest. "Those who say that, it's not their son and not their grandson and they had better not talk about it. There is no escape but to pay the price in order to release an IDF soldier."


Talking to Ynet over the weekend, Noam Shalit said he was not interested in responding directly to the prime minister's claims, but promised that "we will be in Jerusalem and respond with actions."


The kidnapped soldier's father added that "three years after Gilad was taken captive, Olmert's remarks sound somewhat pathetic."


The Group of Friends for Gilad Shalit slammed Olmert's remarks, saying "we do not know whether the mass protests for Gilad indeed help, yet we know with certainty that Gilad has been in captivity for almost 1,000 days – which means Olmert is certainly not helping to bring him back.


"He would therefore do well to talk less and do more," the group added.


The prime minister said Friday that rallies aimed at pressuring the government to secure Shalit's release were not helpful.


"Rallies of 20,000 people are unconstructive," he said. "They boost Hamas – the scum of the earth who are holding Shalit. We are doing things which are above and beyond in order to bring Gilad Shalit back home."


פרסום ראשון: 03.08.09, 08:36
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