More than 200 people attended a Shabbat prayer with the family of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit in their protest tent in front of the prime minister's residence in Jerusalem.
The ceremony was held ahead of Gilad's 25th birthday, which will be marked on Sunday.
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"This is a sad day for the family; they don’t know the fate of their son for over five years," said the head of the campaign to release Gilad Shalit, Shimshon Liebman.
"On Sunday we will not be celebrating, we will only mark Gilad's 25th birthday," he noted, adding that he hopes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu realizes that "when we talk about social justice, it is also tied to the abandonment of Gilad."
Gilad's father, Noam Shalit, is scheduled to speak at the socioeconomic protest in Tel Aviv on Saturday evening, at the request of protest movement leader Daphnie Leef.
"Gilad could have been one of the young people struggling for social justice in Israel. Tomorrow we will say: 'We need to first give Gilad his life back',' Liebman noted.
Commenting on the latest reports vis-à-vis the prisoners swap negotiations, the campaign leader said, "I hope what happened in the south didn’t affect the talks; as of now, there are no new understandings. Sometimes – no news is good news."
The campaign to release Gilad Shalit is organizing several events to mark Gilad's birthday. On Sunday morning, activists will hold a protest in front of the weekly Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. Later that day, they plan to block trucks from reaching the Gaza Strip and hold another protest at Erez Crossing.
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