Shalit Family March Approaches Jerusalem
Prime Minister Netanyahu states he will only made deal if price is right.
The family of Gilad Shalit is approaching the end of a 12-day protest march calling for the Israeli soldier to finally be released after four years in captivity. They started in their hometown of Mitzpeh Hila, and will end in Jerusalem. To the pleasant surprise of Shalit’s parents, siblings and grandfather, the trip has been supported by thousands of marching Israelis along the way.
Among the supporters along the way has been Rona Ramon, the wife of the first Israeli astronaut, the late Ilan Ramon. Her son, Asaf was killed just under a year ago in a military plane crash. This past Monday, which was day eight, Rona told a crowd in Herzliya that “In a place like this, words become small. I am saying a personal prayer that what can be changed will be changed. Gilad is still alive.”
Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has refused to simply give in to the pressure with which he is being faced by the Shalit family, who want him to be more flexible in negotiations. Netanyahu does want Gilad to return home, but not at any price. While Israel has no plans to release any “arch murderers,” Netanyahu has agreed to trade 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, which include 450 members of Hamas.
However, Netanyahu clearly wants to be very careful during this negotiation process. “There are prices that I am not prepared to pay and they are not included in this difficult deal,” said Netanyahu. He has warned that prisoners that were released in the past have gone on to murder many innocent Israelis, and have become some of the top most wanted terrorists. As of last December, Israel and Hamas were around 125 names apart from a prisoner swap.
Contrastingly, Hamas official Dr. Mahmoud Zahar told Gaza demonstrators who were lobbying for the release of Hamas prisoners this past Sunday, “We promise to do all we can for the hero prisoners to return to their homes and families. We have no plans to give up on our prisoners’ freedom. We are close to reaching our goals of releasing the prisoners and having all the refugees return to their homes.”
So far, the Shalit family has been very demanding of Netanyahu, and is not too pleased with his progress thus far. "I call upon you (Netanyahu) to listen to your nation and to do everything, more than you have done until now, to free my brother," said Gilad’s brother, Yoel. Gilad’s grandfather, Zvi Shalit wants the Prime Minister to act more quickly, and more affirmatively. "I don't understand why (Netanyahu) is waiting until we reach Jerusalem. I urge him to announce his intentions now."