Israel Brief April 5, 2012: Shalit family prepares for Passover with Gilad

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Shalit family prepares for Passover with Gilad

Former IDF soldier’s family to truly celebrate meaning of freedom, as Gilad joins Passover seder for first time after over 5 years in Hamas captivity

Source: YNet News, 4-5-12

For the first time after six years, Gilad Shalit will sit down with his family for the traditional Passover seder on Friday. The Shalit family had previously refrained from celebrating the Jewish holiday as long as Gilad was still held captive by Hamas.

“This year we feel true freedom,” Noam Shalit, father of the former captive soldier, told Ynet on Thursday.

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During Gilad’s time in captivity, Shalit campaign activists staged Passover seders outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‘s home in Jerusalem. In 2011, the Shalit family spent the seder in Jerusalem by chaining themselves to the PM’s Residence compound, while many Israeli citizens left an empty chair for Gilad at their seder table.

According to Noam Shalit, this year the festivities will truly be rejoiceful and include the extended family, as Gilad’s grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins will all join them for Passover.

“We’re preparing just like any other home in Israel,” he added.

שליט וההגדה המשטרתית. חג ראשון בשש שנים (צילום: באדיבות משטרת ישראל)

Zvi Shalit recieves special Haggadah (Photo: Israeli Police)

“It feels good. It’s the first time since Gilad was kidnapped when we can really celebrate the holiday. This time it truly feels like a feast of freedom.”

Despite many attempts made by rabbis and different organizations over the years, Gilad never received any of the Passover packages his family made for him during his time in captivity. “He only knew about the holiday from what he heard on the radio, but he never received matzah or wine to prepare a Passover seder,” Noam explained.

The Shalit family received a special Haggadah for the upcoming holiday, which includes photographs of Gilad from his IDF service, from the day he was released from Hamas captivity and pictures from the campaign to free him. The Haggadah was given to Gilad’s grandfather, Zvi Shalit, by Police Operations Division Chief Nissim Mor.

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Israel Political Brief October 18, 2011: Gilad Shalit’s father Noam speaks after emotional reunion

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Gilad Shalit’s father speaks after emotional reunion

Source: The Jewish Chronicle, 10-18-11

Gilad Shalit with Ehud Barak, Benjamin Netanyahu and his father NoamGilad Shalit with Ehud Barak, Benjamin Netanyahu and his father Noam

Gilad Shalit’s father Noam has describing meeting his son for the first time in more than five years.

He said: “Today, it feels like my son has been reborn.”

Mr Shalit told the assembled press in his home town of Mitzpe Hila what it was like to bring his son home. “He came down the stairs, into the house, and through the door he left so long ago.

“Gilad is feeling well, he has a few light wounds which have not been treated well, some are shrapnel wounds, and he has also had a lack of sunlight. But he is just very happy to be home.

He said his son would not be coming out to greet the press or his supporters. “Obviously he finds it hard to be exposed to a big crowd after being alone and isolated for so many days and years.

“He did not communicate with anyone in his own language, he only spoke to kidnappers or guards. We hope he can be rehabilitated as quick as possible with the help of the IDF. We hope he can go back to normal life.

“The pilot of the chopper flew us over the town and Gilad looked down and waved at everyone. He saw the support he was getting along the roads.

He thanked the solidarity movement, the activists in Mitzpe Hila, the IDF and IAF and the Israeli government and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He said the decision to free more than 1000 Palestinian prisoners was “not easy.”

He added: “I feel for the bereaved families, we do understand their pain and the price paying for Gilad’s freedom.”

He said the family had sat down together for a meal and his son had discussed a ittle of what he went through in captivity. “He could listen to the radio, he had some TV, mostly Arabic TV stations. We didn’t ask for him for much, we just sat together, and he has not said much so far. But he did say that at the beginning he was treated very badly, but it had got better in last few years.”

Israel Brief September 13, 2011: Noam Shalit Takes Gilad’s Case to UN

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Noam Shalit Takes Gilad’s Case to UN

Source: Virtual Jerusalem, 9-13-11

Noam Shalit, the father of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, wants his son’s plight to be part of the discussion of Palestinian statehood at the United Nations in September.

In his view, Shalit’s release should be a precondition of any vote at the United Nations on recognition of a Palestinian state.

Shalit was in New York last week meeting with U.N. ambassadors from various nations, including pro-Palestinian ones, noam shalitto make his case that .

Whether or not they’ll take his view into consideration is an open question. But in at least one corner, Shalit won considerable sympathy: The City Council of New York proclaimed Sept. 7 Gilad Shalit day.

The point of Shalit’s trip was to keep the issue of his son’s captivity from being forgotten amid world events, and to use those events as a lever to secure Gilad’s release.

“We hope he’ll be home for Rosh Hashanah,” Shalit told a meeting of the New York City Council, saying a prisoner-exchange deal between Israel and Hamas is “the only way.”

In a 30-minute interview with JTA last Friday, Shalit talked about the need to put pressure on all sides using whatever tools are available. In the more than five years since Gilad Shalit was captured in a cross-border raid on the Israel-Gaza frontier in June 2006, the Shalit family has done all it can to make sure the plight of the captive soldier remains high on Israelis’ minds.

Shalit and his wife, Aviva, set up a protest tent opposite the prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem that has not budged in more than two years. They’ve held nationwide marches, disrupted Independence Day ceremonies and prompted myriad campaigns to pressure the Israeli government to cut a deal with Hamas, including a recent one for Shalit’s 25th birthday. There are Free Shalit wristbands, bumper stickers and banners.

Last week, Shalit met in the United States with American Jewish organizations to strategize on how to lobby the Obama administration to put more pressure on the Palestinian Authority, which he believes can pressure Hamas. Shalit dismisses the notion that the Palestinian Authority cannot influence Hamas or does not share responsibility for his son’s captivity.

“How can they say they have no leverage on Hamas?” he said. “The Palestinian Authority is going to the U.N. to appeal for one Palestinian entity, not two. They want one state for the Palestinian people. The Palestinian Authority cannot absolve itself of responsibility; it holds responsibility for all the Palestinian people.”

Indirect negotiations between Israel and Hamas for Gilad Shalit’s release resumed recently in Cairo, Shalit said, but he remains pessimistic.

“The new Egyptian administration has taken the lead again,” Shalit said. “It is now new people, but Egyptians are the same. We need to urge the Egyptians to move on fast and effectively; we don’t have another three years to spend with negotiations.”

At the United Nations last week, Shalit’s focus was the Palestinian Authority. He said he met with more a dozen U.N. ambassadors to urge them to block any statehood recognition until his son is free. Of particular importance, he said, were his meetings with countries that already have recognized the state of Palestine, such as Argentina.

“We are not dealing with politics,” Shalit told JTA. “We are not asking them to vote for or against a Palestinian state. We just believe that a first step, as a precondition, they should comply with international law.”

The leaders of the world, he said, have to tell the Palestinians, “Look, you cannot go on with this violation of international and humanitarian law and at the same time ask for legitimacy and recognition. It is very basic. They don’t go together.”

via jta.org

Israel Brief August 28, 2011: Gilad Shalit Spends 25th Birthday & 6th Birthday in Captivity

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Shalit spends 25th birthday in captivity

Source: JTA, 8-28-11

Captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit spent his 25th birthday in captivity.

Sunday was the sixth birthday that Shalit has marked in captivity since he was captured by Hamas terrorists in a cross-border raid in June 2006.

Shalit’s parents led a protest in front of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office in Jerusalem on Sunday, with banners reading “We won’t let Gilad celebrate alone.” Another banner called on Netanyahu to give Shalit “his life back” for his birthday.

In a letter to their son to mark his birthday, Noam and Aviva Shalit wrote:

“With the burning sun beating on our heads, on the sidewalk adjacent to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s home, we are trying to digest the fact that 1,890 days have passed and you still are not with us. …

“We’re here. We haven’t given up, we haven’t surrendered, and we have not been broken. And we are not alone. Our dearest Gilad, many many people who are strangers to you, who you have never met, think as we do, that it is inconceivable to speak of social solidarity, of national fortitude and of having faith in the State while abandoning you to your fate. Day after day, lonely and abandoned in Hamas dungeons for over half a decade.”

Israel Political Brief August 28, 2011: Social protesters march for sixth consecutive week in Israel over economic equality

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Social protest demonstrators march for sixth consecutive week

Source: JTA, 8-28-11

Some 20,000 demonstrators protested across Israel calling for social and economic equality.

The protests Saturday night marked the sixth consecutive weekend that Israelis have marched in social protests.

Some 10,000 gathered in Tel Aviv, joined by Noam Shalit, father of captured soldier Gilad Shalit, who said that social justice means bringing all Israeli soldiers home.

Jews and Arabs marched together in the Wadi Ara area of northern Israel, demanding not only social justice, but also to not expand a planned development for haredim in the area.

On Aug. 26, the five-month doctors’ strike was resolved. “This agreement is an additional step in a series of socio-economic steps that this Government has taken in various fields in order to improve Israeli society and reduce gaps,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the start of Sunday’s Cabinet meeting.

“We are not neglecting – neither as a result of our security responsibility nor of our economic responsibility – anything regarding our responsibility to implement social reform in the State of Israel.  We are doing this.  The Trajtenberg Committee is working with all due urgency.  It will submit its recommendations to us next month.  This is a very serious committee and we are talking about serious and responsible steps.  These will not be small steps, but major ones and will be submitted to the Socio-Economic Cabinet in the coming weeks.  Ours is a genuine commitment to social reform and the reform we are talking about is both genuine and serious,” Netanyahu said.

Gilad Shalit’s Imprisonment 5 Years Later

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

Five years on, Shalit’s imprisonment an open wound for Israel

Source: JTA, 6-26-11

Noam Shalit, father of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, sits beneath a banner depicting his son and Ron Arad, the missing-but-assumed-dead Israeli airman, in a protest tent near the prime minister's residence in Jerusalem, June 2, 2011. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

Michal Naamani traveled to Jerusalem from her home near Kfar Saba to hand out yellow ribbons to passers-by and bumper stickers to motorists reading “Gilad is alive.”

Naamani, a high school teacher, felt that she wanted to do something to help captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

“I’m a mother. I have a younger brother doing reserve duty,” Naamani told JTA on Friday, the day before the ifth anniversary of Shalit’s capture in a raid on the Gaza-Israel border that left two other soldiers dead. “I’m here because if it was my son, I would want someone to support me as well.”

Shalit’s family members have done practically everything they can think of to keep Gilad in the public eye.

Last year they marked the anniversary of his capture by marching from their home in northern Israel to Jerusalem, with thousands of Israelis joining them for part of the way. This year Gilad’s older brother, Yoel, disrupted Israel’s state ceremony on Israeli Independence Day.

“We say to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, you have no mandate to sentence Gilad to death,” Noam Shalit, Gilad’s father, said during a news conference Sunday morning outside the prime minister’s official residence in Jerusalem, where the family announced a new campaign to garner more tangible public support for striking a deal to bring home Shalit.

Shalit family members chained themselves together outside the residence in Jerusalem on Saturday night, as hundreds of supporters gathered in support. Others protested outside Netanyahu’s home in Caesarea.

Meanwhile, dozens of Israeli celebrities and politicians marked 24 hours beginning Saturday night at Herzliya Studios, Israel’s largest TV facility, with each spending an hour in “solitary confinement” in solidarity with the captured soldier.

Netanyahu, meanwhile, announced that his government had accepted a German-mediated deal to free Shalit.

“This proposal was harsh; it was not simple for the State of Israel,” Netanyahu said Sunday in a statement released after the weekly Cabinet meeting. “However, we agreed to accept it in the belief that it was balanced between our desire to secure Gilad’s release and to prevent possible harm to the lives and security of the Israeli people. As of now, we have yet to receive Hamas’s official answer to the German mediator’s proposal.”

Netanyahu did not specify the terms of the proposal, but said that “The State of Israel is ready to go far, more than any other country, in order to secure Gilad’s release but it is my responsibility, and the responsibility of those who are sitting here, to see to the security and lives of the Israeli people.”

Five years on and without a clear sign that a prisoner-exchange deal with Hamas is in the offing or even that their son is still alive, the Shalits have become a symbol of what Israelis — whose children are subject to mandatory military service — fear most….READ MORE

Shalit’s father calls for his release

Source: CNN, 7-2-10

The father of Gilad Shalit on Friday resumed calls on Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to help get the soldier freed.

The soldier’s father, Noam Shalit, said: “I call on the prime minister, listen to the people. Get the strength from them to make this difficult decision before it is too late.”

Noam Shalit spoke to CNN by phone while participating in a march for his son’s release.

Gilad Shalit’s family is on a planned 12-day march from their home to Jerusalem. Thousands of people have joined the march. The family intends to camp outside Netanyahu’s official residence until Shalit is free….READ MORE

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