As the 12-day march from Mitzpei Hila to Jerusalem is underway, beginning at 7:30am Sunday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu released a statement that he is doing everything possible to bring about Gilad’s release. The prime minister’s statement comes on the heels of Mr. Noam Shalit’s statements to the press over the weekend, explaining there is no longer room for optimism as Gilad is now in his fifth year of captivity, marking the fourth anniversary of falling hostage to Hamas on June 25th, erev shabbos.
PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting
“Friday marked the fourth anniversary of the abduction of Gilad Shalit. The Government and the security services are continuing to make constant and varied – open and secret – efforts to bring Gilad Shalit back home safe and sound.
“This morning, I phoned Gilad’s father Noam. I invited him to meet with me, along with the rest of his family, immediately after the march reaches Jerusalem. I told him, ‘I know Noam that you are on a long journey, which will end in Jerusalem. I want to see you. I would be glad to meet with you.’ This will not be the first meeting. Of course, I have spoken with him many times. Recently, I also spoke with Gilad’s very impressive grandfather, Tzvi Shalit.
“Our heart is with Gilad and with his family. Four years after his abduction, I call on the international community to line up alongside the State of Israel and our unequivocal and just demand that our abducted soldier be returned immediately.”
The Shalits over recent days obviously decided to refrain from their former policy of withholding harsh statements, accusing the former Olmert administration and the current government of abandoning the IDF soldier in the battlefield, rejecting excuses that have resulted in Gilad’s prolonged captivity without any visitation. Just last week, Hamas rejected a request from the International Red Cross to visit Gilad.
At the start of the weekly cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Netanyahu announced that he telephoned Noam Shalit this morning, inviting him to meet with him when he arrives in Yerushalayim at the end of the march. They expect to arrive at their protest tent outside the official Prime Minister’s Residence on July 8th. The prime minister also spoke with Gilad’s grandfather Tzvi. Mr. Netanyahu called on the international community to stand firmly at Israel’s side towards demanding that Hamas permit Gilad to return home.
Some 10,000 participants were on hand to kick off the march on Sunday morning, Israel Radio Reshet Bet reported. The marchers will be in the Nahariya area on Monday (28 June), leaving Kiryat Motzkin on 29 June, leaving Kibbutz Yagur on 30 June; leaving from Zarka Jct (Route 4) on 1 July; leaving from Kibbutz Ma’abarot (July 2); a day of rest and an event on behalf of Gilad at 21:00 in Ra’anana (3 July); leaving Shfaram (4 July); leaving Glilot (5 July); leaving Azrieli Shopping Center (Tel Aviv – 6 July); leaving Naan Jct/Latrun (7 July); and leaving from Beit Shemesh and concluding in Yerushalayim (8 July).
In a related matter, youths affiliated with Bnei Akiva will march on Rothschild Blvd in Tel Aviv on Sunday evening between the American Embassy and British and French Consulates, calling on those countries to apply pressure on Hamas to obtain Shalit’s release.
And in yet another Shalit-related matter, a concert including the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and Shlomo Artzi set for Kfar Aza, in Kassam rocket range, will be moved to another venue. Organizers confirm the change of venue is due to security considerations.
(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)