The first day of the march for Gilad Shalit is near its end, with thousands of people arriving in Nahariya. A rally took place in the city's mall Sunday evening, after which the 500 participants retired for the night. The procession will resume Monday morning.
Noam Shalit, the kidnapped soldier's father, said the march had been pleasantly surprising. "A multitude of people showed up and we commend that. It gives us strength us, and I call on those to continue to march with us until we reach Jerusalem – from whence we plan to return, God willing, with Gilad," he told the assembly.
Young residents of the Galilee broke out in song, and called for Shalit's release.
Hundreds of Nahariya hospital employees joined the marchers at the entrance to the city. The captive soldier's parents, Noam and Aviva Shalit, met with Gilad's midwife, Mirit Roded, and they shared a long embrace.
Head of the Gilad Shalit campaign Shimshon Liebman commented on the march that left from Gilad's hometown of Mitzpe Hila and is slated to end in Jerusalem. During a rally held in Kibbutz Cabri, Liebman said, "Today we embark on the journey of Gilad's life, we embark on the journey of our lives. We are going out to rebuild our national conscience.
"We are embarking on a convoy that represents love of the land and its children, we are going out with the hope that the mind and heart join together and we do the right and necessary thing as a strong people.
March reaches Nahariya (Photo: Shai Vaknin)
"I ask that the ears of the State's leaders and directors listen. Today we are take with us the song of companionship, today we are erasing the word abandonment. Today we are strengthening our commitment to the soldier that we sent. No, we have not forgotten."
Liebman also conveyed a message to the government and the bereaved parents who object to a prisoner swap deal, in which terrorists would be released in exchange for Gilad's freedom. "Leaders, do not be afraid, this is where our strength lies. One of ours is worth hundreds of theirs."
Meanwhile, Union of Local Authorities Chairman and Ma'a lot-Tarshiha Mayor Shlomo Buchbut has asked the Red Cross to assist Jewish and Arab council heads to visit kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit.
"We are certain that a civil, humanitarian visit participated by Jews and Arabs may cause a breakthrough in improving the humanitarian situation in the entire region," Buchbut wrote in his appeal to the organization.