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Israeli Gilad Schalit and Others Like Him

Trust

Image by soonerpa via Flickr

After five years in Hamas captivity, Gilad Schalit‘s family waits for his release, as do the families of an estimated 7,500 Palestinian prisoners. It’s a standoff, with no end in sight.

Israelis will argue that Schalit is very different from many of the Palestinians, as you will read below:

The situation in Israel/Palestine reminds me of what C.S.Lewis wrote about demons in The Screwtape Letters, “there are two errors we can fall into, like ditches on either side of the road: “One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased with both errors.”

Israel continues to foster in their citizens a culture of fear and contempt of Palestinians. Palestinians continue to foster in their citizens a culture of hatred and contempt of Israelis. Both resist exposure to the other, but Israel outlaws it.  Forgiveness is considered weakness. Israelis and their supporters will swear that letting down their guard will result in disaster.

I thank God for the few organizations like Holy Land Trust,  http://www.holylandtrust.org/ working for Peace in the midst of such opposition.

If you are interested in gaining a deeper understanding of this situation, I am planning a trip next March. Please contact me for more details.

Israeli Soldier Marks 5th Year In Hamas Captivity

Cardboard cut-outs of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit placed on a road near the site he was captured at Kibbutz Kerem Shalom on the border with Gaza Strip Saturday, June 25, 2011.  Schalit has been held by Hamas since June 25, 2006 when he was captured in a cross-border raid. His captors have refused Red Cross visits and contact with his family and his condition is unknown.

Associated PressCardboard cut-outs of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit placed on a road near the site he was captured at Kibbutz Kerem Shalom on the border with Gaza Strip Saturday, June 25, 2011. Schalit has been held by Hamas since June 25, 2006 when he was captured in a cross-border raid. His captors have refused Red Cross visits and contact with his family and his condition is unknown.
Israelis and Bedouins attend a ceremony to mark 5th anniversary of the snatching of Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit by Palestinian militants near the site he was captured at Kibbutz Kerem Shalom on the border with Gaza Strip Saturday, June 25, 2011.  Schalit has been held by Hamas since June 25, 2006 when he was captured in a cross-border raid. His captors have refused Red Cross visits and contac...

Associated PressIsraelis and Bedouins attend a ceremony to mark 5th anniversary of the snatching of Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit by Palestinian militants near the site he was captured at Kibbutz Kerem Shalom on the border with Gaza Strip Saturday, June 25, 2011. Schalit has been held by Hamas since June 25, 2006 when he was captured in a cross-border raid. His captors have refused Red Cross visits and contact with his family and his condition is unknown.
Aviva, right, and Noam Schalit, center, the parents of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit, and his brother Yoel gather for Sabbath eve services at a protest tent set up outside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's residence in Jerusalem, Friday, June 24, 2011. Israeli, Palestinian and international human rights groups are demanding an end to the "inhumane and illegal" treatment of an...

Associated PressAviva, right, and Noam Schalit, center, the parents of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit, and his brother Yoel gather for Sabbath eve services at a protest tent set up outside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‘s residence in Jerusalem, Friday, June 24, 2011. Israeli, Palestinian and international human rights groups are demanding an end to the “inhumane and illegal” treatment of an Israeli soldier held captive in Gaza for five years. Tank crewman Gilad Schalit has been held by Hamas since June 25, 2006, when he was captured inside Israel in a raid. Hamas has denied him Red Cross visits and contact with his family, and his condition is unknown.
Israeli activists calling for the release of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit block a road as they demonstrate outside the Jerusalem International Convention Center ahead of a planned speech by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in Jerusalem, Thursday, June 23, 2011. The International Committee of the Red Cross appealed to Palestinian armed groups on Thursday to prove an Israeli soldier c...

Associated PressIsraeli activists calling for the release of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit block a road as they demonstrate outside the Jerusalem International Convention Center ahead of a planned speech by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in Jerusalem, Thursday, June 23, 2011. The International Committee of the Red Cross appealed to Palestinian armed groups on Thursday to prove an Israeli soldier captured five years ago is alive. Schalit was captured June 25, 2006, by Hamas-linked militants in a cross-border raid. Banners read in Hebrew, left to right: “Bibi, ‘Those who dare, win.’ Have you forgotten?”, “And if it was Yair Netanyahu?” (son of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu), “Is the only way to return from captivity in a coffin?”.
An Israeli soldier and a woman walk past a protest tent calling for the release of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit, near the Prime Minister's residence, in Jerusalem, Friday, June 24, 2011. Israeli, Palestinian and international human rights groups are demanding an end to the "inhumane and illegal" treatment of an Israeli soldier held captive in Gaza for five years. Tank crewman Gilad Sc...

Associated PressAn Israeli soldier and a woman walk past a protest tent calling for the release of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit, near the Prime Minister’s residence, in Jerusalem, Friday, June 24, 2011. Israeli, Palestinian and international human rights groups are demanding an end to the “inhumane and illegal” treatment of an Israeli soldier held captive in Gaza for five years. Tank crewman Gilad Schalit has been held by Hamas since June 25, 2006, when he was captured inside Israel in a raid. Hamas has denied him Red Cross visits and contact with his family, and his condition is unknown.
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JERUSALEM June 25, 2011, 01:39 pm ET

Gaza Strip militants vowed Saturday that an Israeli soldier captured five years ago would not “see the light” until Palestinian prisoners held by Israel were released.

In Israel, some 400 supporters of Sgt. Gilad Schalit gathered at the border crossing where he was seized by gunmen linked to Gaza’s ruling Hamas movement on June 25, 2006.

They waved Israeli flags emblazoned with his likeness and demanded the government do more to secure his release. A relative read a letter from Schalit’s grandfather faulting the state for failing to bring the 24-year-old home.

“The people involved talk to us from time to time, stroke our heads, but my beloved grandchild Gilad, through no fault of his own, is still rotting away in a Hamas dungeon like a common criminal,” Zvi Schalit wrote.

In Jerusalem, Schalit’s parents, his brother and his brother’s girlfriend chained themselves to one another and to a railing on the side of a small road leading to the prime minister’s residence.

“We are marking five years’ anniversary of Gilad’s captivity in the Hamas hands and we, as you can see, are also a family in captivity for five years,” said Schalit’s father, Noam Schalit.

Schalit, a tank crewman, was taken captive after militants tunneled under the Israeli border, killed two soldiers at a border post and dragged him bleeding into Gaza. Hamas has allowed no one to visit him and last offered a sign of life in October 2009.

Hamas’ threat to continue holding him until its demands are met was delivered in a 39-second video posted Saturday on the group’s website.

Hamas wants Israel to release hundreds of Palestinian militants, including the masterminds of attacks that killed dozens of Israelis. Israeli officials have balked, arguing that releasing the men would put more Israelis in danger.

In the northern Gaza town of Jabaliya, families of some of the estimated 7,500 Palestinian prisoners incarcerated in Israeli jails sat with pictures of their imprisoned sons emblazoned on birthday cakes. Number candles were planted on the cakes, signifying the 12 to 22 years the men had spent in Israeli prisons.

The White House and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued statements calling for Schalit’s immediate release.

Schalit holds dual French-Israeli citizenship, and Israeli media reported that the French ambassador to Israel brought Schalit’s parents a letter from French President Nicolas Sarkozy assuring Schalit that “France will not abandon you.”

Earlier this week, Hamas rebuffed an appeal from the International Committee of the Red Cross to prove Schalit was still alive. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu retaliated by saying Palestinian prisoners would be stripped of access to higher education and other unspecified privileges.

Palestinian prisoners have reported that Israeli corrections officials have been confiscating cell phones that had been smuggled to them, and that leading Hamas prisoners have been transferred to solitary confinement.

Kadoura Fares, head of the Palestinian prisoners association, said Israel had already severely limited prisoners’ visitation rights.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri called the new measures announced by the prime minister “a violation of international law and international humanitarian law” and urged international intervention to block them.

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