Family of Gilad Shalit
Family of Gilad Shalit in their protest tent outside of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's residence in Jerusalem Photo by Emil Salman
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Israel Defense Forces chief of staff Benny Gantz expressed hope Monday that abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit will soon return home.

During a Passover dinner with soldiers from the IDF's infantry corps, Gantz said that he "can testify on the efforts being made to end this complicated affair."

Meanwhile on Monday evening, the family of Gilad Shalit marked the fifth Passover holiday since Gilad was taken hostage. In contrast to past years, however, the Shalit family did not hold a Passover feast in their Jerusalem protest tent this year and instead chose to spend the seder sitting in front of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's residence, located a few hundred meters away from the tent.

In an earlier statement that the family released, they said that this step was intended "to remind the prime minister that after five years in captivity by Hamas, Gilad also deserves to celebrate Passover with his family just like the prime minister and rest of the citizens of Israel."

Earlier Monday, President Shimon Peres visited Aviva and Noam Shalit in the family's protest tent and told them that he was optimistic regarding the chances of their son's release, placing the blame for the lack of success in securing his release on Hamas.

On Sunday, Netanyahu appointed a new Israeli mediator to negotiate Shalit's release, David Meidan, following the recent resignation of former mediator Hagai Hadas.