Lawmakers Urged to Take Up Cause to Free Gilad Shalit

Noam Shalit, father of kidnapped soldier Gilad, implores Knesset members to lobby on son's behalf.

The Shalit family is petitioning lawmakers to urge Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to make a deal to return Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier who was captured by Hamas-linked militants in a cross-border raid in 2006.

Some lawmakers said it was time for the Knesset to lead the campaign to free Gilad Shalit and to make the decision to bring him home.

Noam Shalit.
Michal Fattal

"Israel must not flinch at dealing with a few dozen terrorists who may return to terror activity after being freed," said Noam Shalit, father of the abducted soldier, on a visit yesterday to the Knesset, where he urged lawmakers to support the struggle to free his son.

"It is inconceivable that Israel should fear to confront terrorists, even the worst ones," Noam Shalit said. "If we cannot do that, we may as well return our identity cards [citizenship] and look for another place."

Gilad's father, mother and activists in the campaign to free the captive solder asked Knesset members to sign a letter addressed to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and calling on him to bring Gilad home.

"Anyone who is unwilling to deal with abandoning a soldier cannot be a leader or a commander," Noam Shalit said.

Noam and Aviva Shalit met with the chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, MK Shaul Mofaz (Kadima ), who pledged his support in a deal to free the soldier. "After five years in captivity, it's time to make the required move and bring Gilad home," Mofaz said.

Shalit must be brought back under the "unwritten contract between the state and its protectors," Mofaz added. "If there were other ways to bring him back, they should have been taken by now. But the only way now is to free terrorists and murderers," he said.

"Israel will know how to confront the worst of them," Mofaz remarked.

"We are calling on the prime minister to make the deal but to do it yesterday, not in five years and not in two years. Every passing day brings Gilad closer to the state Ron Arad was in and the similarity is bloodcurdling," Noam Shalit said.

In the past, Israel knew how to bring back captured soldiers who had been sent out to battle or on a mission, he added.

The deal's "high, impossible price did not come from Mount Sinai. It is a result of faulty negotiations, conducted mainly by the previous government," Noam Shalit continued.

"As the body supervising the cabinet, we must state our position unequivocally," said Labor MK Eitan Cabel. He said it was time for the Knesset to legislate a bill to return Shalit.

"The Shalit family have been without their son for five years. The Knesst can no longer stand idly by," Cabel said. "This is where decisions must be made. I believe the time has come for the Knesset to submit a bill on the matter. We will work with the family, Knesset member by Knesset member, asking for each one's support and signature to strengthen the prime minister to bring Gilad back."