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Special Alert – 25 June 2008

** SPECIAL ALERT ** **GILAD SHALIT: 2 YEARS IN CAPTIVITY ** **SPECIAL ALERT**

Today, 25 June, marks exactly two years since Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was abducted following an infiltration and attack by terrorists in the area of Kibbutz Kerem Shalom. Since that time, the only sign of life that his family has been given is two letters and one audio of his voice. To read his latest letter, click here.

Gilad is being held against his will and being denied proper rights to which every other prisoner of war is entitled under international laws and standards.

Last Thursday a ceasefire came into effect between Israel and Hamas. The release of Gilad Shalit was not a part of the deal, a decision which has divided the Israeli public. Gilad Shalit’s family and many others believe that no deal should have been made that did not include the release of Gilad. For more information, click here. Tami Arad, the wife of missing Israeli soldier Ron Arad has also pleaded with the government to help the Shalit family. To read her emotional plea, click here.

It is believed that Ofer Dekel, the government’s chief coordinator of prisoner deals, will be heading to Cairo on Thursday to renew indirect talks with Hamas through Egyptian mediators. Egypt pledged that if Israel agreed to a truce not involving Gilad Shalit that they would take an active part in subsequent talks with Hamas. The deal could involve the swap of 450 Palestinian prisoners, though Israel is extremely reluctant to release those terrorists involved in suicide bombings. A Hamas spokesman has stated that “Shalit will not see the light of day if our prisoners don’t”. Read ‘Negotiator heading back to Cairo for indirect talks on Shalit’ from Haaretz for more information.

A Facebook group has been set up on behalf of Gilad Shalit and all the Israeli missing soldiers with over 53,000 members to date. For those familiar with Facebook, users are changing their status to: “[User Name] has been waiting for Gilad Shalit for 2 years!!!” and are replacing their profile picture with Gilad’s picture. To join, search for the group name: “24.06. my facebook status. “is waiting for Gilad Shalit for 2 years!!!

One can only hope that a deal can be reached in the very near future.

Meanwhile there have been two violations of the ceasefire since it came into effect last Thursday. The most recent was three Kassam rockets that struck in the western Negev. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility, stating that it was in response to the IDF killing a top Islamic Jihad operative on Tuesday in Nablus (West Bank). A Hamas spokesman has stated that the rocket attack “came as a result of Israeli provocation” but continued that Hamas was “committed to the security calm”.

A government source said that “the Palestinians were trying to link events in the West Bank to the situation in the Gaza Strip, even though the agreement with Hamas explicitly said that the cease-fire was in Gaza Strip only and that Egypt would consider whether it could also be applied to the West Bank in another six months.” For more information, click here.

While Israel has not yet responded, Haaretz is reporting that Ehud Olmert and Defence Minister Ehud Barak have “agreed on methods of response”, according to the Prime Minister’s Bureau, but they “will not provide further details”.

Meanwhile, Israel’s Chief IDF Rabbi is looking into making a decision to declare Israel’s abducted soldiers, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, “Killed in Action”. The decision would be made according to intelligence surrounding the initial attack, information received since and in accordance with Jewish legal criteria. To read more, click here. This plan has completely outraged the families of the soldiers, with Karnit Goldwasser (Ehud’s wife) declaring, “It is a terrible and humiliating day for Israel”. Karnit has subsequently met with Ehud Olmert, and while the government has yet to confirm it, she has said that the Cabinet will vote on a deal with Hezbollah on Sunday.

The families of the soldiers have said that a declaration that the soldiers have been killed in action could put a halt to any deals that are taking place in regards to their return. Ehud Barak has pledged that Israel is obligated to recover the soldiers, even if they are no longer alive, stating, “we have a responsibility to bring the kidnapped soldiers home even if they are dead”.

As I mentioned in my last update, a possible deal could include the release of Samir Kuntar, who was responsible for the killing of four Israelis in 1979, and who has been used as a bargaining chip for information on Ron Arad. Please read this letter from Samir Kuntar to Hassan Nasrallah vowing to continue on a path of terror after his release and declaring “I give to you… and to all the Jihad Fighters, my congratulations and [my] renewed loyalty”. This is just to give you all an idea of the kind of person they are dealing with.

I would like to remind you all that there will be an Israel Advocacy Session at Beth Weizmann tomorrow night – Thursday 26 June at 8pm at Beth Weizmann, featuring Nimrod Barkan and Nir Boms. Please click here for more details. You can RSVP to me directly by clicking here

Please continue to keep Gilad, Ehud and Eldad in your thoughts and raise awareness of their plight in the wider community. To read short bios of all of Israel’s Missing in Action soldiers, click here. We were all born to be free.

Best wishes,

Emily.

Emily Chrapot
Research Officer
State Zionist Council of Victoria
9272 5507

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