Hundreds in London rallied for the release of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown joined the marchers Sunday and was among 1,000 Britons who signed a New Year’s card for Shalit. The cards were sent through the Israeli Embassy in London and the British Zionist Federation. The International Red Cross promised to pass on the cards to its branch in the Gaza Strip.
Rally participants marched from Green Park to the Liric Theatre calling for Shalit’s release. The soldier was abducted on the border between Israel and Gaza more than two years ago.
The marchers – from Jewish schools, youth movements, Jewish organizations and other community groups, as well as individuals – held signs reading “819 days and we’re still waiting” and “We miss you” as well as pictures of Shalit. They wore T-shirts printed with Shalit’s picture.
At the theater, about a thousand people heard from the Israeli ambassador, Ron Prosor, and Shalit’s father, Noam, as well as a performance by Israeli singer Ehud Banai.
Prior to the rally, Noam Shalit said that although Tzipi Livni was elected the head of the Kadima Party last week, “Olmert is not off the hook.” Prime Minister Ehud Olmert submitted his letter of resignation Sunday to President Shimon Peres.
He added, “I want the British government to say that it is not acceptable for him to be held like this. Gilad is being held in complete isolation for more than two years without any humanitarian help, and I want Amnesty International to press his case. All I want is just to bring back Gilad.”
Last week a Palestinian member of one of the groups holding Shalit told the London weekly Sunday Times that Shalit is treated well and that they even had parties for his birthdays. However, no international organization had access to him.