Israel marked two years since Gilad Shalit’s capture.
Wednesday is the second anniversary of a June 25, 2006 raid in which Hamas-led gunmen abducted Shalit, a conscript tank crewman, to the Gaza Strip after killing two of his comrades. The Palestinian Islamist faction has provided scant details on Shalit’s condition, though he is believed to be alive.
The Shalit family planned to hold an anniversary rally in their hometown, Mizpe Hila. Israeli media, which have regularly updated their audiences on the duration of the soldier’s captivity, carried a flurry of interviews with his friends, relatives and comrades.
“If we don’t act fast, there will be no one left to save,” Shalit’s father, Noam, told Maariv.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has recently stepped up efforts to secure a prisoner swap with Hamas via Egyptian intermediaries. But Shalit’s family has accused the Olmert government of endangering any deal to retrieve the soldier by entering a Gaza truce last week that eased Israel’s military and economic pressure on Hamas.
“Hamas is making cynical use of the suffering of Gilad Shalit, the pain of his family, the pain of the people of Israel, in order to dictate its own brutal agenda in the region, in order to undermine a political process which is taking place right now to create a better future for the region,” Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said in a statement.
“Hamas is responsible for the life and health of Gilad Shalit, and we, the Israeli government, will take all steps to bring him back home.”