Dozens Commemorate Tisha B'Av With Family of Gilad Shalit

150 people visit Shalit family protest tent, read from Book of Lamentations; Chief Rabbi Metzger leads prayer for the captive soldier.

More than 150 people gathered on Monday, the eve of Tisha B'Av, at the protest tent for set up by the family of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and read the Book of Lamentations. Ashkenazi chief rabbi Yona Metzger arrived and led a prayer for the soldier's release.

Shalit was captured by Gaza militants in June 2006 and has been held by Hamas for the last four years. Earlier this month, the Israel Defense Forces soldier's family marched from their home in the Galilee to the prime minister's residence in Jerusalem and set up a protest tent, which they said they would not leave until Gilad was free.

Family of Gilad Shalit in their protest tent outside of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's residence in Jerusalem, 2011.
Emil Salman

"For 1485 days Gilad has been imprisoned. 1485 days ago, the Shalit Family's world was turned upside down," rabbi Metzger said at the protest tent. "On the day that the Jewish Temple was destroyed, we all came to identify with the family and feel their pain. We are all one family."

Metzger added that "If the temple was destroyed because of baseless hatred, today we are all demonstrating a show of baseless love. I pray that we will see his speedy return, and that our words will be heard where they need to be heard, both in heaven and on earth."

The Shalit Family has been living in the protest tent , located adjacent to the prime minister's residence, for over a week now, in order to put pressure on Benjamin Netanyahu to act. Every day, hundreds of citizens come to visit and to support the members of the Shalit family.

In order to increase the pressure on the prime minister and the other ministers, the members of the Shalit Family plan to camp out directly in front of the prime minister's office every Sunday during the weekly cabinet meeting.