Activists working for the release of abducted IDF soldier Gilad Shalit set up a protest tent in front of the residence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday in which the Israeli prisoner is shown at a Passover table with a bowl of maror, or bitter herbs, a holiday meal tradition. Shalit is depicted sitting in front of a sign that reads: "Nothing has changed for four years."
Signs have been hung on the tent bearing photographs of Shalit and Ron Arad, the Israel Air Force navigator missing since he was captured over southern Lebanon in 1986, suggesting that Shalit may also go missing unless a deal is quickly struck with Hamas, his captors.
The head of the organization working for Shalit's release, Shimshon Leibman, said that the activists and the family are at a stage of making decisions on the future. Leibman says that the family still believes that the prime minister will exhibit leadership and bring about Gilad's release.
"At Passover we speak of the exodus from Egypt and we say that we need to talk about an exodus from the Gaza Strip, but such a move requires a leader," Leibman said. "If we had not been freed at Passover we would have remained slaves to Pharaoh, and in our exodus from the Gaza Strip we must not be enslaved to force - the release of Gilad for hundreds of their own is our strength."
The organization for the release of Shalit called on the general public to leave an empty chair at the Passover seder to remember Gilad. Tel Aviv's Chief Rabbi, Yisrael Meir Lau, issued a similar call late last week.
Yesterday morning reservist soldiers and officers tried to enter the Knesset and the Prime Minister's Office to deliver a letter to ministers as they held their weekly cabinet meeting. Security guards prevented their entry.
Eventually, Netanyahu's bureau chief, Natan Eshel, met the soldiers outside and received their letter, which was then relayed to the prime minister.
"I am contacting you directly because I believe that we, the women, have enormous influence and act out of intuition and emotion," Koretz wrote. "I feel a sense of paralyzing fear in thinking about Gilad and the anxiety that I feel daily as my son's enlistment approaches. I know that you are also a mother to two sons, one already serving in the IDF and the other will enlist, and I assume you also worry and can sense some of the Shalit family's helplessness, and the concern that leaves his mother restless."
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