Israelis observe five minutes for Shalit


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israelis observed five minutes of silence in honor of captive soldier Gilad Shalit.

The country came to a halt Tuesday morning as Israelis observed one minute for every year that Shalit has been held captive by Hamas in Gaza.

Cars on the street and people walking on sidewalks stopped; all work in the Knesset also halted. President Shimon Peres paused in the middle of an address to the Negev Conference in Eilat.

"For the past five years, the entire nation has been united in its hearts in the hope that Gilad Shalit will be here with us, healthy and whole," Peres said at the conference. "Shalit family, we feel like a part of your family. Gilad is a soldier in the IDF, and the entire country will not rest until he comes home."

Shalit was captured in a cross-border raid between Israel and Gaza in June 2006.

Hamas has demanded the release of 1,000 Palestinians in Israeli jails, including some directly responsible for the deaths of Israelis.

In October 2009, Hamas released a one-minute videotape of Shalit. Hamas has not allowed the Red Cross to visit Shalit.

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