The campaign to release captive soldier Gilad Shalit will intensify once the Passover holiday ends, with organizers citing the absence of any reports on progress and the general deadlock in talks on prisoner exchanges.
On Monday, Shalit's family left the seder that was being held in the protest tent and set up camp outside the official residence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Together with their elder son Yoel, Noam and Aviva Shalit sat on the pavement there for several hours, saying their intention was to remind the prime minister that after five years of captivity, Gilad deserved to celebrate Passover together with his family, just like the prime minister and all other Israelis.
The next steps of the campaign are still being finalized, but Haaretz has obtained a copy of an internal letter sent by the chairman of the campaign, Shimshon Liebman, to key activists. "It seems we are in need of a major change in the campaign," he wrote. "The struggle can not rest on displays of solidarity alone . . . we already have the sympathy. Now we need to look at the situation and ask the following question: What can cause the prime minister to make a decision? Otherwise we'll need to operate on a more political track, talk the political language and touch upon political issues. In our country, being what we've been so far is not enough."
The campaign's organizers and the family expect a significant response from the public if and when they decide to intensify their protests.
Over the holiday, several hundred people and a number of key public figures visited the protest tent, including Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and President Shimon Peres. Peres expressed optimism after the meeting, saying that he was "wholeheartedly convinced we will see Gilad alive and well and at home."
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