1 Year On – Where are Gilad, Udi and Eldad ?
Awareness week for Israel’s kidnapped soldiers to culminate in public rally on Monday
A rally for Israel’s kidnapped soldiers – Gilad Shalit, Udi Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, will be held on the steps of Melbourne’s GPO (corner Bourke and Elizabeth Streets) on Monday June 25 from 12.30pm. Hundreds of people are expected to turn out in support of the 3 young men who are still being held captive by terrorists, almost 1 year after being kidnapped from sovereign Israeli soil – Gilad from Israel’s border with Palestinian-controlled Gaza, and Udi and Eldad from the northern Lebanese border.
Monday’s rally is the culmination of a week-long campaign that began on June 18, to highlight the fact that Gilad, Udi and Eldad have not been heard of since the dates of their kidnappings and they have been denied their most basic of human rights, their freedom.
Speakers at the rally will include Senator Mitch Fifield, Mark Dreyfus QC and Anat Kiviti-Manor, a close friend of Ehud Goldwasser and his wife Karnit.
Anat, who is in Melbourne completing a PhD in chemical engineering, grew up with Udi and Karnit in the northern Israeli town of Nahariya and the group became close while studying at the Technion Institute. Anat is in weekly phone contact with Karnit and says her friend refuses to give up on the hope that Udi is alive. “She’s a fighter. She’s a very strong woman and she’s not giving up hope”.
The rally on June 25 is an initiative of State Zionist Council of Victoria (SZC) youth and will be led by Victoria’s Zionist youth movements and members of the Australasian Union of Jewish Students. Alon Cassuto SZC Youth Liaison Officer said “We call on all members of the community on June 25 to spotlight the fact that 1 year after being kidnapped by terrorists, Gilad, Ehud and Eldad are still being held against their will, their whereabouts and condition are unknown and that Israel seeks a peaceful solution to their return.”
Monday June 25 will mark 1 year to the day that 19 year old Gilad Shalit was kidnapped by the terrorist Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades (the military wing of Palestinian governing party Hamas), the Popular Resistance Committees (which includes members of Fatah, Islamic Jihad and Hamas), and the Army of Islam, the same group that is known to be holding BBC journalist Alan Johnston captive.
At 05:40 that morning a terrorist group of several Palestinians invaded the border south of the Gaza Strip into Israel through a tunnel near Kerem Shalom and attacked an army facility on the Israeli side of the border.
Wednesday July 12, 2006 was the last day of reserve duty for Udi Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. The 2 had been conducting security patrols along Israel border with Lebanon in defence of Israel’s northern settlements.
The patrol was routine, until 09:05am, at which time Hezbollah heavily bombarded the whole region. This turned out to be a diversion for the planned kidnapping of the soldiers. The kidnapping would also spark the month-long Second Lebanon war.
Other activities to raise awareness for the plight of Gilad, Udi and Eldad include a blue ribbon campaign first initiated when Gilad Shalit was kidnapped last year, the blue ribbons representing a simple visual reminder of the 3 young men; a special blog at http://szcsolidarityrally.blogspot.com to provide information, resources and messages of support to the Shalit, Goldwasser and Regev families, as well as educational kits sent to schools with guidelines for programs.
A federal parliamentary motion introduced by Liberal member Sophie Mirabella in regards to the abduction of Gilad, Udi and Eldad and their safe return to Israel will be raised in August.
For more information contact:
SZCV Youth Liaison Alon Cassuto 0421-790599
SZCV Director of Public Affairs Elly Shalev 9272-5519; 0400-313197