WASHINGTON (JTA) — The U.S. Senate unanimously called for the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit just days after the fourth anniversary of his capture by Hamas.
The non-binding resolution passed June 28, initiated by U.S. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and George Voinovich (R-Ohio), demands that "Hamas immediately and unconditionally release Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit" and that the terrorist group allows "prompt access to the Israeli captives by competent medical personnel and representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross."
Gunmen affiliated with Hamas captured Shalit in a cross-border raid on June 25, 2006 after Israel had withdrawn from the territory, and have not allowed him Red Cross access.
"I am deeply troubled by the continued detention of Gilad Shalit by Hamas four years after his kidnapping, and I pray for his expeditious release and safe return to his family in Israel," said Sen. Voinovich, who is retiring this year.
A similar resolution passed unanimously last week in the House of Representatives.
On the anniversary of Shalit’s capture, U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, pledged to keep the issue alive.
“Over the past three years, I’ve met and spoken with Gilad’s father, Noam, on a number of occasions," she said in a statement. "He has told me about the struggle to bring his son home, and I showed him his son’s symbolic dog tags displayed in my office – symbols of Gilad’s life and service, and our hopes for his survival and safe return. When I traveled to Israel, I met with the entire Shalit family and loved ones of other missing soldiers. Each time I go back to Israel and the Middle East, I take the dog tags with me, showing them to other leaders and pledging to never forget their story."
The Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the umbrella body for Jewish public policy groups, lobbied hard for the resolutions.