Five years on, Shalit capture marked

By Jennifer Lipman, June 27, 2011
Gilad Shalit

Gilad Shalit

Rallies and protests were held around the world to mark the fifth anniversary of the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit by Hamas.

The Israeli soldier was 19 when he was seized at the Gaza border by terrorists.

In Israel, hundreds of people travelled to the spot where Sergeant Shalit was taken , for a ceremony where they waved Israeli flags and read a letter from his grandfather.

In the letter, Zvi Shalit repeated his family's accusation that the Israeli government has not done enough to secure his freedom.

Other members of the Shalit family, including his parents and brother, staged a protest in Jerusalem by chaining themselves outside the home of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. "We, as you can see, are also a family in captivity for five years," said Noam Shalit.

Speaking on Sunday at a cabinet meeting, Mr Netanyahu said Israel was still waiting to hear Hamas' official answer to recent proposal from the German mediator of a deal to secure Sergeant Shalit's release .

"We are involved in many actions…all of which are in order to bring Gilad Shalit back home, safe and sound," he said.

"Israel is ready to go far, more than any other country, in order to secure Gilad's release but it is my responsibility and the responsibility of those who are sitting here, to see to the security and lives of the Israeli people."

Elsewhere, hundreds of people gathered in Paris to mark the anniversary and appeal to the French government to exert more pressure on Hamas to release the soldier. Sergeant Shalit has joint Israeli and French citizenship. Governments around the world, including those in the UK and the US, released statements demanding his immediate release.

Jewish groups in Britain also marked the anniversary, while a Christian group in Ealing organised a 24 hour "Let my People Go" prayer intercession.

The events came as Hamas refused to honour a Red Cross plea for proof that Sergeant Shalit was still alive. The last time Hamas revealed information about him was October 2009.

Last updated: 2:12pm, June 27 2011