JEWS around the world are being urged to pause for five minutes of silence this weekend to show their solidarity with Gilad Shalit on the fifth anniversary of his kidnapping by Hamas terrorists.
To mark the occasion, community leaders and politicians around the world have stepped up their calls for the young Israeli soldier to be freed.
The Zionist Council of Victoria and Jewish Community Council of Victoria have issued a joint letter to state members of parliament and parliamentary friends of both Israel and Palestine.
Signed by the two organisation’s presidents, the letter calls for recipients to “use this opportune time to demand from Gilad Shalit’s captors his immediate release from captivity”.
Meanwhile, federal Labor Member for Isaacs Mark Dreyfus has once again addressed parliament on Shalit’s plight, drawing attention to the 1826 days the soldier has been held captive.
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“Before people call for Israel to sit down and negotiate with Hamas, they should think about the conduct of this organisation, an organisation that took power in an armed coup in Gaza and murdered hundreds of its
opponents … and an organisation which to this day illegally holds Gilad Shalit hostage,” he said.
“I call on human rights activists and world leaders to stand up, to speak up and to demand the immediate release of Gilad Shalit.”
On the international stage, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have jointly issued a statement calling for the soldier’s release.
Both leaders have been active on the issue in the past; with Sarkozy conscious of Shalit’s dual Israeli-French nationality and Germany
acting as a mediator between Israel and Hamas in previous negotiations concerning Shalit.
The joint statement, issued during a meeting on the Greece debt crisis, came amid reports that the two countries were offering Hamas added incentives – including easing restrictions on Gaza’s border crossings, as well as de facto recognition of the Hamas government in Gaza, which would allow for European investment in the territory – in exchange for Shalit’s release.
Closer to home, the Melbourne Jewish community is staging a rally for Shalit at Caulfield Park Pavilion this Sunday, which will include a musical presentation and five minutes of silence.
An online campaign has also been launched by the Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA) to highlight Shalit’s continuing captivity.
The site, www.meetgilad.com, aims to collect one million personal messages of support for Shalit as
well as building a co-ordinated global network of organisations, which
can work towards “goals of mutual interest”.
Hundreds of school children, meanwhile, shared their feelings about Gilad’s plight with The AJN. Their reflections are published in this week’s issue.
The rally for Gilad Shalit will be held at Caulfield Park Pavilion, June 26, 11am.