Shalit’s Family Mark His 23rd Birthday


shalit2Friends and family of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit marked the young captive’s 23rd birthday today at a prayer rally at the Kosel. Shalit was kidnapped by Hamas-backed terrorists in 2006, at age 19, in an attack on an IDF patrol outside Gaza in which two other soldiers were killed.

Shalit’s father Noam told reporters at the rally that the family is “not optimistic.” Tel Aviv Chief Rabbi Rav Yisrael Meir Lau wrote a special tefillah for Gilad’s release for the occasion.  Rav Lau expressed sympathy and support for the Shalit family. “For three years, not only has he been held in darkness, but so has the entire family: Noam, Aviva, Tzvi and everyone,” he said.

The Israeli branch of Amnesty International marked the event by calling on Hamas to allow international humanitarian workers and members of the Shalit family to visit the captive. Hamas has not allowed any contact with Gilad, despite international laws requiring that captors allow humanitarian visits.

There have been multiple rumors of a breakthrough in talks over Shalit’s fate in Arab media in recent days. However, both Israeli officials and senior members of Hamas have rejected the reports, and say there has been no significant change. Such rumors have surfaced dozens of times since Shalit was abducted.

Read a full report at Arutz Shevah.

{Arutz Shevah/Yair Israel}