Monday, September 29, 2008

Shalit: Israelis will celebrate while Gilad rots in captivity

Kidnapped IDF soldier to spend third Jewish New Year in Gaza prison. 'The fact he and we cannot celebrate with the rest of the country is particularly painful and difficult,' his father Noam tells Ynet. Gilad's friends organizing holiday meal outside PM's residence

Ahiya Raved
Israel News

Another holiday without him: This is the third year the Shalit family will mark the Jewish New Year without its son Gilad, who is being held captive in Gaza. "It's not easy knowing that while all the people of Israel – almost – are celebrating Rosh Hashana, Gilad is still rotting in captivity," Shalit's father Noam told Ynet.

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Full story
The "Friends of Gilad Shalit" group is organizing a holiday meal which will be held outside the prime minister's residence on Monday evening.

The group announced that the menu would be particularly lean. "The meal will try and simulate the holiday meal Gilad is eating in captivity on his third holiday there, and will only include dry and basic food and not a proper holiday feast," one of the group members said.

According to Noam Shalit, despite all efforts exerted the family members are unaware of his condition and do not know in what kind of conditions he is being held.

The letter delivered to Hamas by Noam Shalit, through French President Nicolas Sarkozy, has yet to be handed over to Gilad.

"Last week I spoke to the presidential Élysée Palace," he said, "but they had yet to receive confirmation that the letter was delivered."

'Olmert still responsible'

The changes expected in the State's leadership mean nothing to the Shalit family. Ehud Olmert is still prime minister, and as far as they are concerned, he is the person responsible for Gilad's return.

This is the reason why the friends' holiday meal, which was initially planned to be held outside the home of newly elected Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni, will eventually be held outside Olmert's home.

"We’re not freeing the prime minister of his responsibility so fast. He must return Gilad home during his shift," said Noam Shalit.

"Tzipi Livni? She is busy with her coalition issues now, her political issues. It's not even clear whether she will be prime minister. As far as we are concerned, Olmert is still prime minister with all this implies, also as the head of a transit government."

And is there any news in terms of the negotiations for Gilad's release? "The only new thing we know is what everyone knows, that the Ramon committee came up with a list of 450 prisoners who can be released.

"I heard the Hamas men's declarations – both ways – following the list, but Hamas men are good with declarations. They forgot that these statements should be part of a negotiation to have any effect. Negotiations are not held through declarations on al-Hayat."

The Shalit family is not alone in its struggle. Miki Goldwasser, the mother of fallen IDF soldier Ehud Godlwasser, slammed the government on Sunday, focusing on the ongoing transfer of funds to Hamas.

"Do you really think the funds Israel is transferring to the Hamas regime in Gaza are allocated to the civilians there? The money is used to purchase more and more weapons that are later aimed at us. Our government is impotent," she stated.

On the backdrop of the kidnappers' threats to toughen their stance in the negotiations, the Shalit family has not much left apart from hope.

"We only have one hope and one wish for the new year: To be able to celebrate the next Rosh Hashana in our home, with Gilad, with all the people of Israel, and not outside the home of any prime minister.

"Although as far as we are concerned every passing day is another day in captivity, the fact that he and we cannot celebrate with the rest of the country is particularly painful and difficult."

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