Gilad Shalit's fifth birthday in captivity marked

By Jennifer Lipman, August 30, 2010

A rally marking the 24th birthday of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit has attracted thousands of people in Jerusalem.

Aviva Shalit used the occasion of her son’s fifth birthday in captivity to appeal to Benajmin Netanyahu to do more to secure Gilad’s freedom.

Mrs Shalit has been camped outside of the Israeli prime minister’s home since June in an attempt to pressure the government into striking a deal for Gilad’s release.

The soldier was just 19 when he was kidnapped by Hamas during a cross-border raid in June 2006.

Mrs Shalit told the crowd that she missed her son more every day.

Once again I didn't bake a cake, you won't be able to blow out the candles

Aviva Shalit

"Once again I did not buy you a present this year, I didn't bake a cake, you won't be able to blow out the candles.

"I will make one wish in your name: that your candle not be extinguished, that you remain healthy in your body and soul.

"Sorry for not freeing you yet."

Britain and France also repeated calls for Hamas to free the soldier.

A foreign office spokesman said: “The British government demands his immediate and unconditional release."

"The thoughts of many in Britain are with Gilad Shalit and his family.

"His detention is unjustifiable and unacceptable.”

Nicolas Sarkozy condemned the “revolting way of treating a human being which provokes our collective indignation.”

In a statement the French president added: "Gilad is not a prisoner of war, for PoWs have rights such as visits from humanitarian organisations or exchanges of mail with their loved ones.

“Gilad does not have these rights because he is a hostage.”

Mr Netanyahu said in June that he is prepared to release 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Gilad Shalit.

But Hamas has so far refused offers of any kind of deal and despite repeated calls has refused to allow the Red Cross access to him.

Last updated: 10:18am, August 30 2010