JERUSALEM (JTA) — Thousands of supporters of captive soldier Gilad Shalit entered Jerusalem in the last leg of a two-week march.
The marchers, estimated by Israeli media at 15,000, entered the capital Thursday afternoon on one lane of the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem Highway. Police closed several major roads to traffic in the city.
During an Independence Park rally Thursday evening, Shalit’s mother, Aviva, spoke directly to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: "The people have spoken. Bibi, don’t ignore us.
"Gilad has been in Hamas’ cellar for 1,474 difficult, dark and painful days and nights," she said. "The time has come to say enough. Four hellish years are too much."
She referred to the unwritten pact between the state and parents who send their children to the army that the government will do everything in its power to bring its soldiers home.
Shalit’s parents plan to remain in Jerusalem, camped out in front of the Prime Minister’s office, until their son returns home.
Interior Minister Eli Yishai of the Shas party joined the march outside of Jerusalem.
Shalit was captured in a cross-border raid four years ago, and is reported to be held by Hamas in Gaza. Israel has offered to release 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Shalit.
On Wednesday night, Jewish Orthodox and secular women gathered in Tel Aviv for a “spiritual march” and prayer service for captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
Wednesday night’s program, attended by about 120 women, was organized by Aish HaTorah and led by Rabbanit Yamima Mizrahi, who urged attendees to remain positive and to pray for Shalit every day
Meanwhile, British Zionist youth movements have gathered thousands of signatures calling for Shalit’s release. British citizens have been signing the petition this week in front of the British prime minister’s official residence at 10 Downing St. in London. A different youth group has gathered signatures each day.
Some British lawmakers have signed the petition, according to Zak Jeffay, B’nei Akiva’s UK director.