The Shalit family and dozens of supporters are planning to continue their protests Sunday, as they mark the fifth year of their son, Gilad, being in Hamas captivity.
The family is currently protesting outside the cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. On Saturday, they stormed into the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu residence compound in Jerusalem and chained themselves to each other to protest the IDF soldier's ongoing captivity.
- Receive Ynetnews updates
directly to your desktop
Waving a sign reading "Netanyahu, you do not have the mandate to kill Gilad," Noam Shalit, the captive's father, told Ynet that "this sign speaks for itself. No politician, including the prime minister, has the right to sentence a solider sent on a mission by the government, to death.
"The government sent him there and the government has to secure his return, even if there are some risks to the deal."
Interior Minister Eli Yishai spoke to reporters ahead of entering the cabinet meeting: "It is clear that as long as Gilad Shalit is not here – we have failed.
"We should have completed the negotiations faster. He should be brought home safe and sound and the sooner the better."
'Netanyahu is afraid'
The Shalit family called a press conference on Sunday and urges Netanyahu, via the media, to "pay the necessary price. We are not talking about 'any price' or anything else that's hypothetical – but the named price – out of a position of strength not weakness, and bring him home. No one will forgive you for abandoning Gilad, as you have until today."
Addressing Netanyahu's recent statement that the confinement conditions of Hamas prisoners would be exasperated, Noam Shalit said he doubted whether Israel "would ever be able to pressure Hamas. The prime ministers… out of some unexplained weakness, is afraid to take a risky decision – but these are calculated risks.
Launching new media campaign (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
"The government, under Netanyahu, is afraid to deal with a few dozen terrorists. The prime minister is recycling statements and creating the pseudo-scenarios of terror waves, as if our security forces can't handle a few dozen terrorists.
"Defense officials have states, clearly, that despite the price this deal can manifest, he said.
Shalit added that the family was launching a media campaign meant to garner tangible public support for a prisoner exchange deal.
The Shalit campaign urged those supporting the deal to send a text message with the phrase "in favor" to a 5252 number.
Waiting for Hamas?
Netanyahu, on his part, began the cabinet meeting by saying: "Yesterday, we marked five years since Gilad Shalit was abducted by a cruel enemy – Hamas – that refuses to adhere to the minimal demands posed by international conventions on humane confinement conditions. They have even barred Red Cross visits.
"Gilad is held in horrible conditions and his family is suffering. Israel, every decent person in the world is outraged by this.
"We have applied considerable international pressure, which was expressed with statement by leading nations, such as the US and EU nations, and even the UN secretary-general – all imploring Gilad's immediate release and demanding the Red Cross be allowed to visit him," Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu stressed that the most recent prisoner exchange proposal brought forward by the German mediator in the Shalit deal was "very complex and very difficult and we still accepted it, because it was able to balance our desire to have Gilad released with the need to keep Israelis safe. To this date, however, we have not heard from Hamas."
Meanwhile, Israeli artists, public figures and other celebrities are continuing with the "solitary confinement" project, set up at the Herzliya television studies to protest of Shalit's ongoing incarceration.
Over a period of 24 hours, each figure will be staying in solitary confinement for an hour to show solidarity with Shalit and his family.
Omri Efraim and Ronen Medzini contributed to this report
- Follow Ynetnews on Facebook