A convoy of 10 cars with 40 mothers wearing yellow ribbons arrived Friday morning at the Erez crossing into the Gaza Strip. They were holding signs that read "Let Gilad's sun shine," referring to kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit. "We don't have spare children," was another message.
One of the organizers, Israela Shidlov, said that "the state that knows how to draft its children unconditionally must know how to release them unconditionally. Gilad's life is priceless."
Shidlov said during the week that their demonstration was triggered by "unacceptable" statements by former Israel Defense Forces chief of staff Moshe Ya'alon. He had said that sometimes Israel should be willing to sacrifice prisoners of war if the cost of their release is too high.
Shidlov said the demonstration was an apolitical protest by mothers of soldiers. "We have no connection with any organization; this stems from motherhood and parenthood," she said.
But she would not allow other mothers to voice their concerns over their sons now serving in combat units. "My message is a full draft, and to combat units. That is my home, that is the education we transmitted to our children. But we want to believe that we have support if they are captured that the state will act to bring them home," she said.
"We could also be in the place where Shalit's parents are."
The mothers say they plan to demonstrate every Friday at the Erez crossing and on major intersections throughout the country. Erez is the place they can be closest to Shalit, they say.
"We will flood the country with yellow until Gilad comes home," said Madi Cohen, another spokeswoman for the group. "Gilad is the child of us all. We are all mothers to soldiers in the past, present or future, and we must continue our efforts until we can all welcome him home with flowers."
During the protest, reports came in of two mortars fired at the Western Negev, and the mothers headed for home. Next week the convoy will start out from Moshav Kidron, near Gedera, for another demonstration at Erez.
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