A fleet of 13 yachts left Herzliya Marina Monday in a call to release captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Before the fleet left the marina, a rally of some 200 boaters, Opposition Chairwoman Tzipi Livni and Herzliya Mayor Yael German was held.
The fleet was organized by the organization of mothers for the release of Gilad Shalit and Knesset Member Orit Zuaretz (Kadima). She called upon the international community "to come together to remove the blockade on Gilad Shalit."
The fleet for Gilad (Photo courtesy of Sea-Gal)
"Gilad shalit is alive, and humanitarianism should not distinguish between people's blood. The entire world is mobilized for the residents of Gaza, but turns a blind eye to the fact that Gilad Shalit is under blockade for four years already and has not been privy to even one humanitarian gesture," MK Zuaretz added.
MK Livni said during the rally, "The fleet today is a fleet of peace. It symbolized the values of the State of Israel. It sharpens the distinction between a flotilla of peace and flotilla of disguise that included activists who wielded knives, clubs, and rods in their hands in order to beat."
According to the opposition chairwoman, "The world today is starting to treat Hamas like a government legitimate enough to receive support, but not a legitimate enough government to uphold international charters, not even as little as a visit from the Red Cross to Gilad Shalit."
Sailing for peace from Herzliya to Tel Aviv (Photo courtesy of Sea-Gal)
She described the moments after receiving news of the commando takeover of the Gaza-bound flotilla last week to those participating in the sail.
"On Monday, once the results of the event were known and it turned out there were casualties on the boat and before seeing the heart-wrenching images of the IDF soldiers being beaten, it was clear to me that there are civilian casualties, which means the IDF soldiers acted in self-defense.
"The problem is that what is taken for granted by us is not always understood on the outside. It is clear to us that these are our children, and we know on which values we raised them. We know ahead of time, even before we knew the facts, that they exercised restraint until they could no more. They fired when they needed to, and this is good. It is good that they fired; it is good that they protected their lives," continued Livni.
'Mothers don't leave their sons in captivity'
Ilana Sharon, mother of a soldier serving in the artillery corps, said, "Imagine the magnificence Israeli society will feel when we see Gilad here, alive and well, when the utmost value of not leaving any soldier behind is upheld, whatever the price may be."
Chairwoman of the mothers group for the release of Gilad Shalit, Varda Friedman, added, "Soldiers don't leave hostages behind in the field, and mothers don't leave their sons in captivity."
At the end of the rally, blue and white balloons were released into the sky and the fleet was underway.
Among the yachts participating in the fleet were four boats from Herzliya's Sea-Gal yacht club, which donated its boats to the sail participants. The original plan was to boat to Ashdod where the Gaza-bound flotilla was redirected. However, due to security reasons, this was not possible. Therefore, it was decided to hold the sail from Herzliya to Tel Aviv and back.
- Gilad Shalit has been in captivity in the Gaza Strip for 1,443 days