Pollard supporters at the Western Wall
Pollard supporters at the Western Wall Israel News Photo-Flash 90

This week's momentous news events were the withdrawal of the IDF from Gaza and the inauguration of President Barack Obama, but nothing changed for American prisoner Jonathan Pollard and kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.

Pollard has languished in prison for nearly 24 years after having been sentenced to life by a court in the United States for passing on to its ally classified information, an offense that usually carries up to four years in jail.

His wife Esther prayed at the Western Wall (Kotel) for several hours on Tuesday for a last-minute release of her husband from prison before United States President George W. Bush left office. Supporters of Pollard flooded the White House the past two weeks with tens of thousands of phone calls pleading for his release.

Hopeful writers at Israel National News even prepared an article celebrating his release under a would-be headline "Jonathan Pollard is Coming Home!"

However, President Bush left office without fanfare and without a mention of Pollard while in Israel, kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit once again became the "last Jew in Gaza" after the IDF withdrew, concluding the Cast Lead counterterrorist campaign. Pro-Pollard activists are already organizing another stage of the struggle, but they are now focusing their efforts on getting the Israeli government to publicly request Pollard's freedom from the new U.S. administration.

Hamas and Popular Resistance Committees terrorists abducted Shalit in June, 2006 in a raid on a Gaza crossing in which two other soldiers were killed.

Hopes for winning Shalit's freedom are somewhat higher than those for Pollard, although the soldier's family and friends are angry that the Olmert administration agreed to end Operation Cast Lead without bringing him back home.

"While there are things that Hamas wants to obtain from Israel, there is a human being that we want back - Gilad Shalit," Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told students at the College of Management this week.

Monday evening, several hundred protestors outside the Tel Aviv offices of the Red Cross called for the organization to condemn Hamas. The Red Cross has not made any contact with Shalit since he was kidnapped although Israel has honored international laws and has allowed it to visit Hizbullah and Lebanese terrorists who were held before their release last year.

They were freed in return for the coffins of kidnapped IDF soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev.