Gilad Shalit's Second Birthday as a Hostage

Tuesday marks Cpl Shalit's second birthday as a hostage of the Palestinian Authority's ruling Hamas organization. Events were held in his honor.

Nissan Ratzlav-Katz,

Cpl. Gilad Shalit, held by PA terrorists
Cpl. Gilad Shalit, held by PA terrorists

Gilad Shalit was born on August 28, 1986. Tuesday marks his second birthday as a hostage of the Palestinian Authority's ruling Hamas organization. Gatherings were held around the nation in honor of the captive IDF soldier, held by the PA in Gaza since June 25, 2006.

The central event marking Corporal Shalit's 21st birthday and calling for his release took place in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square on Tuesday evening. Members of the Shalit family,
Passersby were given pseudo-"party favors."
friends and supporters gathered for a rally and awareness campaign. Gilad's relatives placed a large birthday cake in the middle of Rabin Square to mark the occasion and passersby were given pseudo-"party favors" with the message "Gilad Shalit - They are waiting for you at home." Organizers also handed out small magnets with a similar text, along with the message, "Don't let apathy kill them."

Aside from Cpl. Shalit, the latter message refers to IDF soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, captured by Hizbullah terrorists from Lebanon in a cross-border raid on July 12, 2006. Eight soldiers were killed in the battle with the Hizbullah forces. In addition, another five Israeli soldiers are missing and are assumed to have been taken captive by Arab or Iranian operatives. 

Speaking at the Rabin Square rally, Noam Shalit, Gilad's father, slammed Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for not doing enough to secure his son's release. "There are no meaningful negotiations," said Shalit, adding that there has been a total failure to achieve solid results.

In addition to gatherings in honor of Shalit's birthday, activists are placing placards and banners around the country that say, "Our Gilad is 21 years old. Another birthday in captivity."

Through indirect contacts, Cpl. Shalit's father Noam asked that Hamas, which currently rules Gaza uncontested, publish a birthday letter to Gilad in a local PA newspaper. Hamas has refused the request. Independent Arab newspapers have published personal letters to Gilad Shalit in the past.

Khaled Mashaal, the Damascus-based political leader of the Hamas terror organization, suggested on Monday that Hamas would release a video of Shalit in exchange for Israel releasing minors and women jailed for terrorist offenses. Mashaal said that the tape would prove that the IDF soldier is in good health and receiving adequate care. According to Mashaal, Shalit's treatment is "in accordance with Palestinian morality." Israel reportedly refused the deal.
Noam [Shalit] asked that Hamas... publish a birthday letter to Gilad.

In June of this year, Hamas released an audio tape of Shalit speaking, in which he addressed his family, friends and the Israeli government. In that tape, the captive IDF corporal was made to say that his medical condition was worsening to the point that he needed hospitalization.

On June 25, 2006, Cpl. Shalit was nabbed by PA terrorists who tunneled under the Kerem Shalom Crossing between Gaza and the western Negev, coming up adjacent to and behind an IDF army position. Aside from the wounding and capture of Shalit, the enemy attackers managed to kill two soldiers and injure three others before retreating back into Gaza with their captive. The operation was a joint effort of several PA terror groups, including both Hamas and Fatah members united under the Popular Resistance Committees.