Schwarzenegger calls for Gilad Shalit release

California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger

California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arnold Schwarzenegger has added his support to the campaign for the release of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

The California governor and former actor, famous for playing the Terminator, said at a pro-Israel rally in Los Angeles that he was praying for Shalit to be freed.

His phone conversation with the missing soldier’s father, Noam Shalit, was broadcast to a crowd of more than 2,000 Israel supporters.

The governor said: “I'm a father of four children. I cannot even imagine in my wildest dreams that one of my children should be kidnapped and be held for all these years.

"We all are concerned and we all love you and we want to pray for you and your son, that he gets released as quickly as possible."

At the rally, one of several across the United States, Gov Schwarzenegger told the cheering crowd of his longtime support for Israel.

Gilad Shalit was captured in the Gaza Strip nearly four years ago by Hamas. Following the clash on a Gaza-bound flotilla, Shimshon Liebman, an Israel-based campaigner for Shalit said the continued blockade of Gaza “serves as an impetus to pressure Hamas”.

Mr Liebman said: “It can't be possible that Israel will allow massive amounts of merchandise to enter the Gaza Strip at the same time that Gilad is rotting in a Hamas cellar.”

Last updated: 4:08pm, June 7 2010