Thousands march for captive soldier

2010-07-05 21:20

kalahari.com

Tel Aviv - Around 15 000 Israelis marched through the streets of Tel Aviv on Monday in a show of solidarity with a captive soldier held by Palestinian militants in Gaza for four years.

The outpouring of support for the family of Staff Sergeant Gilad Schalit was part of a 12-day protest march across Israel, launched last week to pressure Israel's government to conclude a prisoner swap deal for his release.

In a related bid to draw attention to the plight of the soldier, renowned conductor Zubin Mehta planned to lead the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra in a special concert near the Gaza border.

Mehta said he hopes the concert will inspire Gazans to pressure the Hamas government to allow the Red Cross to visit the soldier for the first time.

Noam Schalit, the soldier's father, told the crowd at a square in downtown Tel Aviv that the large turnout would push the government to make a deal to free his son.

"Look at this massive wave of citizens marching with us in the thousands, in the tens of thousands," he said.

"The release of Gilad and his return home is not just the wish of our family, it is the will of the people."

The days of mass protests have put heavy pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to strike a deal with Hamas - which Israel shuns as a terrorist group.

Netanyahu said last week he has agreed to trade 1 000 Palestinian prisoners for Schalit, but said he would not accept the group's demand to include senior militants convicted in deadly attacks against Israelis.

Like his predecessor, Ehud Olmert, Netanyahu fears convicted killers would return to violence if freed.

Marchers wore T-shirts bearing the soldier's image, and drivers stuck in traffic honked their horns to show support.

Soldiers at the Israeli military's headquarters in the city clapped as the march passed by.

Schalit, 23, was seized inside Israel by Hamas-linked militants in June 2006. The militants killed two other crewmen in Schalit's tank.

His captors have barred any access to him and released only a brief videotape last year to prove he was still alive.

Schalit's plight has touched the hearts of many in Israel, where military service is compulsory for Jewish citizens and most families have relatives who serve.

"I have a son in the army and I hope that if, heaven forbid, he was captured everything would be done to bring him home," said Etti Danbo, 53, one of the marchers.

"Gilad is like my son. He could be anyone's son."

Some families of Israelis killed in Palestinian attacks have called on the government to reject a deal that would free militants convicted of killing Israelis. Danbo said she identified with those bereaved families, but said the victims were dead and "Gilad is still alive."

Organisers said about 120 000 marchers have joined the protest march over the past week, including politicians, local celebrities and Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli.

At its conclusion, the Schalits have pledged to camp outside Netanyahu's official Jerusalem residence until they see their son again.

- AP
Read more on:    israel  |  gilad shalit
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

 

Inside News24

 
/Africa
 

Device lets disabled people talk through their nose

A device that converts nose breaths into speech will open new doors for people with Parkinson’s or motor neuron disease.

 
 

For chic geeks...

It’s THIS easy for someone to steal your ATM pin!
This is why you should install iOS 8
17 photo illusions that look so real
Check out the speed of this robo-cheetah!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Pre-order your iPhone 6 at kalahari.com

Hurry and pre-order your own iPhone 6 now at SA’s favourite online store!

Bargain box – 60% off

Reduced prices, very limited stock. While stocks last. Hurry and shop now!

Mind blow low prices on electronics

Get either the Prestigio multiphone or Proline tablet 7” tablet for only R699. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off Barbie toys

Save 30% on all Barbie toys and accessories. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Baby extravanganza month at kalahari.com

Celebrate baby month with a wide range of awesome baby products. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may take extra pride in your work today. You have a need to shine and be respected so you may put the extra effort and TLC...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.