Noam Shalit Appeals to Palestinian Public to Back Prisoner Swap

Father of abducted IDF soldier Gilad Shalit to hold East Jerusalem press conference urging parents of Palestinian prisoners to pressure Hamas into exchange deal.

The father of Gilad Shalit is to hold a press conference directly appealing to the parents of Palestinian prisoners held in Israel to pressure the Hamas government to agree to an exchange deal for Gilad Shalit's release, Haaretz learned on Saturday.

Noam and Aviva Shalit
Emil Salman

Noam Shalit announced he would hold a press conference in east Jerusalem marking 1,500 day since Gilad Shalit was abducted by Hamas in 2006, which also marked the start of the Muslim month of Ramadan. During the intended rally, Shalit said he would urge the Palestinian public to make sure their relatives "celebrate Eid al-Fitr [the Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan] with their family, and not in a prison cell in Israel."

Shalit has directly addressed the Palestinian public and its leaders in the past in an attempt to speed up the negotiations for his son's release. The negotiations for an exchange deal mediated by Germany have been at a standstill over the last few months over disagreement regarding the list of over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners Israel is expected to release for Shalit's release.

In June 2006, Palestinian gunmen tunneled under the Gaza-Israel border and raided an IDF position close to the Kerem Shalom crossing. Two IDF soldiers were killed, three were wounded, and Gilad Shalit was taken captive.

Ahead of the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah last year, Noam Shalit addressed a crowd of Israelis and Palestinians lamenting the fact that the abducted Israeli soldier would "celebrate" the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah in Gaza, instead of in Israel with his family.

"Gilad is so close to here, and yet so far away," Army Radio quoted Noam Shalit as saying. "We're standing here on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, which Gilad will 'celebrate' in Hamas' basements in Gaza. For a stretch of 1,200 days and nights, [he has been] away from his family, friends and the State of Israel."