Photo: Yehonatan Tzur
Activists on Coastal Highway
Photo: Yehonatan Tzur
Rona Ramon (L), Aviva Shalit and Orit Noked
Photo: Ido Erez

Rona Ramon: Gilad is still alive

Some 10,000 people attend rally for kidnapped soldier at Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya. Widow of first Israeli astronaut: I'm saying a personal prayer. 'The support is overwhelming,' says Shalit's father Noam

The protest march aimed to pressure the government to secure the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit left Kibbutz Shefayim on Sunday morning towards the city of Herzliya, with 2,000 people marching southward on the Coastal Highway.


Heavy traffic jams were experienced in the area due to the procession, as the police closed one of the lanes for the marchers.


As he arrived at the Kfar Shmaryahu Junction, Shalit's father Noam said that "the support of thousands of people is overwhelming".


The captive's parents were joined by Rona Ramon, who lost her husband Ilan in the Colombia space shuttle disaster and her son Asaf in a military plane crash.


Deputy Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Orit Noked joined the march as well. "I am here to support the Shalit family in their just and proper struggle for Gilad's return home."


Upon reaching Herzliya, the activists held a rally at the Interdisciplinary Center, which was attended by more than 10,000 people.


Shalit's brother, Yoel, addressed the crowd: "Gilad my brother, we are doing everything we can to bring you home. Hang in there. Bibi, listen to your people and do everything you can to return Gilad to us. The huge public brings us closer to Gilad and Gilad closer to us."

Marching in Rishpon area (Photo: Ido Erez)


Rona Ramon told the audience: "In a place like this, words become small. I am saying a personal prayer that what can be changed will be changed. Gilad is still alive." She received a huge round of applause from the audience.


IDC President Prof. Uriel Reichman said, "We must pressure Hamas to secure Gilad's release. Those who entered Gaza in Operation Cast Lead should not have left without Gilad. Gilad the private from the north is our son and brother."


Thousands of yellow balloons were released at the end of the rally. The activists then moved on to the Israel Air Force building in Herzliya for another rally. At around 4 pm, they will begin marching towards Tel Aviv on the Ayalon Freeway.


On Friday, the protest march reached the private residence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Caesarea on Friday, where the Shalit family and their many supporters held a Shabbat ceremony – with one empty chair.

Widow of astronaut Ilan Ramon marches with Noam and Aviva Shalit (Photo: Ido Erez)


Aviva Shalit, the mother of the kidnapped soldier, responded to a speech by Netanyahu in which he said Israel would not pay any price for the release of her son.


"We never asked for release at all costs, the cost was determined by the Israeli government. Now we are saying enough!" the mother said.


Activists for Shalit's release have been holding Shabbat ceremonies in front of Netanyahu's home and Jerusalem office for a number of months.


Gilad Shalit was kidnapped into the Gaza Strip 1,470 days ago.


פרסום ראשון: 07.04.10, 09:39
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