About 5,000 people attended a rally Monday organized by the family of captive soldier Gilad Shalit in the northern town of Kiryat Motzkin.
The rally was held following the second day of the Shalit cross-country march headed to Jerusalem.
"We are standing here and are touched to see all the masses here," Gilad's father Noam Shalit said at the rally. "I hope this movement, these masses…will keep on arriving and continue to support us, while growing even more."
The crowd on hand responded to the remarks with loud applause.
"We expected hundreds of people yet thousands arrived, and we're still not done," Shalit's father said, while reiterating his call for more people to join the march.
Gilad Shalit's grandfather, Zvi, told Ynet he too was touched by the number of participants at the rally.
"I think the prime minister will not be able to ignore the influence of such crowd, and we still have some surprises up our sleeve," he said.
'We need different solution'
However, rally attendants included Israelis who do not endorse a prisoner swap for Shalit under the terms proposed by Hamas. Yossi Zur, whose son Asaf was murdered in a Haifa bus attack seven years ago, told Ynet: "This conflict is terrible and my stomach aches. I know better than anyone what it means to live without my child on a daily basis, but we must not make a deal that exchanges Gilad's life for the lives of other Israelis."
Aerial view of Shalit march (Photo: Ilan Arad Aviation)
"We need to come up with a different solution that would bring back Gilad," he said.
The thousands of Israelis who have joined the Shalit family on their march to Jerusalem have already walked from their home in Mitzpe Hila to Akko in the two days since theythe latest campaign got underway.
On Monday morning, the marchers held a rally in Akko, with close to 3,000 participating arriving at the event. Many were students from the city's various schools.
The captive solderi's mother, Aviva Shalit, thanked all those present and said she hoped their support would spur her son's release.
Ahiya Raved contributed to this report