June 25 Marks Four Years Hamas Has Held IDF Soldier Gilad Shalit in Captivity

Anniversary Comes as Red Crescent Boats Prepare to Travel to Gaza on “Humanitarian Aid” Mission

On June 25, 2006, IDF soldier Gilad Shalit was kidnapped by the terrorist group Hamas and two other groups, the Al-Nasir Salah al-Din Brigades and The Army of Islam in an unprovoked attack in which two soldiers were killed. Abducted through Israel’s Kerem Shalom crossing, he has been held hostage in the Gaza Strip by Hamas ever since. Though wounded at the time, Hamas has denied the soldier medical attention or visits by any humanitarian group, a violation of the Geneva Convention. Shalit, a soldier of the IDF’s Armor Corps, held the rank of corporal at the time of the incident and has since been promoted to staff sergeant. At the time of Shalit’s kidnapping, Fatah – Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ party – was in charge of the Gaza Strip. It wasn’t until a year later – June 14, 2007 – that Hamas took over governance of Gaza in a bloody coup.

At the time of his abduction, Shalit was 19 years old. He celebrates his 23rd birthday on August 28.
As Israel marks four years since Hamas has held Shalit hostage, the terror group continues to refuse to allow the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to visit him. The latest denial comes as two boats from Iran’s Red Crescent, part of the International Red Cross, prepare to join an aid flotilla bound for Gaza with the goal of storming Israel’s maritime blockade. Allowing the Red Cross to visit Shalit, Hamas Deputy Chief Mousa Abu Marzouk said on June 11, could give away where Hamas is hiding Shalit. Until Hamas released a video of Shalit in October 2009, the terrorists offered few signs that Shalit was alive or details about his condition.
Israel has attempted to negotiate numerous times with third parties for Shalit’s release. But since November 2009, Hamas leaders have not responded to a proposal to free Shalit that would have allowed the release of 450 Palestinian prisoners, including former terrorists linked to killings of Israeli civilians.
On April 25, Hamas published a video showing Shalit’s father Noam wandering the streets of Tel Aviv with a picture of his kidnapped son, accompanied by an audio recording of the young soldier released by Hamas in September 2009.
Last month, self-described peace activists participating in a six-vessel flotilla bringing humanitarian aid to Gaza rejected a request by Shalit’s father to bring his son a letter and small package from him. In exchange, Israeli authorities said they would allow the flotilla to deliver its cargo to Gaza through a nearby Israeli port. The flotilla’s organizers refused his request, saying it didn’t align with their mission.
Next week, the Shalit family will hold a 12-day trek along with members of the campaign for his release that will start out at the family home in Mitzpe Hila and will conclude at the prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem. Hundreds of participants, including representatives from various volunteer and social groups, are expected to take part.

Much of the information in this article was culled from the Israel Project, www.theisraelproject.org

There are many things you can do to help raise awareness and ensure that Gilad Shalit is not forgotten. Here are just a few:

Join the Yellow Balloon campaign. United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism has launched a campaign in which participants are asked to email virtual yellow balloons that say “Bring Gilad Home” and to draw attention to the campaign over Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites; and to display real yellow balloons in front of synagogues, affiliated organizations and throughout the week. Several Conservative synagogues in Connecticut are taking part. Visit www.koach.org/gilad for more info.
Write a letter. Write a letter to the ICRC, the UN and Amnesty International urging them to take action to free Gilad. For a sample letter and email addresses visit www.standwithus.com.
Support Shalit’s parents. Let Noam and Aviva Shalit know you are with them. There are several ways to reach them. One is to email letters to the Shalits at freegilad@uscj.org. Watch Noam Shalit youtube video about his son.
Change your facebook profile picture and status. Visit www.standwithus.org for picture ideas.
• Talk, talk, talk. Until he’s home safe, don’t stop talking about Gilad in your communities, your synagogues, your schools.

“When the Shark and the Fish First Met”
A story by Gilad Shalit

By Gilad Shalit

When Gilad Shalit was 11-years old and a fifth grader at the Maale Hagalil Elementary School, he wrote a story entitled “When the Shark and the Fish First Met”. In this allegory, Shalit writes about a young fish who meets a young shark. Although natural enemies, they decide to become friends and live in peace.

Here is Gilad’s story:
“When the Shark and the Fish First Met”

A small and gentle fish was swimming in the middle of a peaceful ocean. All of a sudden, the fish saw a shark that wanted to devour him. He then began to swim very quickly, but so did the shark.
Suddenly the fish stopped and called to the shark: “Why do you want to devour me? We can play together!”
The shark thought and thought and said: “Okay- fine: Let’s play hide and seek.”
The shark and fish played all day long, until the sun went down. In the evening, the shark returned to his home.
His mother asked: “How was your day, my dear shark? How many animals did you devour today?”
The shark answered: “Today I didn’t devour any animals, but I played with an animal called FISH”.
“That fish is an animal we eat. Don’t play with it!” said the shark’s mother.
At the home of the fish, the same thing happened. “How are you, little fish? How was it today in the sea?” asked the fish’s mother.
The fish answered: “Today I played with an animal called SHARK.”
“That shark is the animal that devoured your father and your brother. Don’t play with that animal,” answered the mother.
The next day in the middle of the ocean, neither the shark nor the fish were there.
They didn’t meet for many days, weeks and even months.
Then, one day they met. Each one immediately ran back to his mother and once again they didn’t meet for days, weeks and months.
After a whole year passed, the shark went out for a nice swim and so did the fish. For a third time, they met and then the shark said: “You are my enemy, but maybe we can make peace?”The little fish said: “Okay.”
They played secretly for days, weeks and months, until one day the shark and fish went to the fish’s mother and spoke together with her. Then they did the same thing with the shark’s mother; and from that same day the sharks and the fish live in peace.

Gilad’s story has been illustrated by Israeli artists and children and displayed throughout Israel.

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