Activists led by Noam Shalit had hoped to arrange a gift exchange Thursday in which a present would be sent to kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, Noam's son, in exchange for the delivery of 100 presents to Hamas terrorists imprisoned in Israel. The proposed swap was conducted Thursday morning, but delivery has been delayed on both sides.
Hamas representative Sami Abeid told Noam Shalit that there was “no reason” why the package prepared for Gilad would not reach its destination. However, reports in Arab media stated that Hamas would not deliver the package out of fear that its contents contain a tracking device.
The package includes an apple and honey, a bottle of wine, a book of tehillim (psalms), and a copy of the Tanach (Bible), said Noam Shalit. It also includes a copy of the children's book "When the Shark and the Fish First Met" – the text of which was written by Gilad at age 11.
On the Israeli side, Israel's Prison Services has delayed delivery of the gifts sent to Hamas terrorists following a petition from the terror victims group Almagor.
"This step is part of a joint protest with families of terrorists, calling on the government to make a deal with Hamas – a deal in which Israel will be asked to release hundreds of terrorists with blood on their hands. This is a very controversial campaign. Under these circumstances, for the Prison Services, a public organization, to receive these packages and pass them along would constitute participation in a political protest,” the petition stated.
Yoel Marshak of the United Kibbutz Movement, a leading figure in the Shalit campaign, said he would continue to pressure the Prison Services to deliver the gift packages from Hamas.
Shalit, Hamas Rep. Shake Hands
The package for Shalit and the gifts for Hamas prisoners were exchanged on Thursday morning, in a symbolic reference to the prisoner swap that Shalit activists and Hamas have called for. During the exchange, Noam Shalit shook hands with Hamas representative Abeid, according to Ynet.
The older Shalit called on families of Hamas prisoners to pressure their government to carry out a deal. “We see the Palestinian participants here who are waiting for their sons to return, and we hope they will pressure their leaders to end this saga,” he said.