Knesset Speaker at Shalit Protest Tent: I'm Confident Gilad Will Be Released

Reuven Rivlin visits Shalit Family protest tent, says Israel is doing everything to gain captured soldier's release.

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin visited on Tuesday a protest tent set up by the family of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, to show his support.

Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin
Alberto Denkberg

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

During his visit to the protest tent, on the day of mourning of Tisha B'av, Rivlin said that "I came here as a human being and a citizen that feels your pain, especially today, when we expect to feel hope and comfort."

"The last two governments have been dealing with the release of Gilad, and I have no doubt that it will happen. Israel is doing everything in its power to minimize his time in captivity."

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 Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to act. Every day, hundreds of citizens come to visit and to support the members of the Shalit family.

Rivlin said to members of the family that the march that they organized from Mizpe Hila to Jerusalem set off waves, "not only in Israel, but all over the world." The Knesset Speaker added that "the pressure on Israel is understandable, but I hope that this will lead to the world putting pressure on the other side."

On Monday, more than 150 people gathered at the protest tent and read the Book of Lamentations, traditionally read on the eve of Tisha B'Av. Ashkenazi chief rabbi Yona Metzger arrived and led a prayer for the soldier's release.