Envoy's first move? Enter the Shalit tent

Ambassador Gould pledges his support to the captured soldier’s family


Personal message: Celia and Matthew Gould with Noam and Aviva Shalit

Personal message: Celia and Matthew Gould with Noam and Aviva Shalit

The new British Ambassador to Israel and his wife Celia have visited the parents of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit at their protest tent in Jerusalem.

Matthew Gould, who arrived in Israel just after Rosh Hashanah, said that Prime Minister David Cameron had asked him to go and see Noam and Aviva Shalit as soon as he arrived in Israel.

He told the Shalits: "He wanted me to send a personal message from him of solidarity and support, and give you his promise that we will continue to raise Gilad's case both privately and publicly. He wanted me to let you know that Gilad is not forgotten, and that you are not forgotten, by him."

Mr Gould, who is the first Jewish ambassador sent by the UK to Israel, added: "Celia and I really hope that this is going to be your year to welcome Gilad home."

Describing it as outrageous that the soldier had been denied even "the most basic of human rights", including a visit from the Red Cross, Mr Gould said: "We really wanted to come and say that we really feel for you. Whatever we can do, we will do."

Mr Gould also expressed his hope that he could soon host the couple with their son for Shabbat dinner.

Gilad Shalit was captured in Gaza by Hamas terrorists in June 2006. Last month his fifth birthday as a prisoner was marked with events around the world.

    Last updated: 2:28pm, October 20 2010