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Friday, 13 March 2009

A Rally for Gilad Shalit

According to BBC News, there is a rally currently taking place in Jerusalem, Israel to raise awareness of captured conscript Gilad Shalit and urge the government to do more to free him.

I think this is a very important cause, and it's heartening to hear that hundreds of people would rally to show support.

Shalit was captured on a routine patrol near the Gaza border by Palestinian militants, including elements of Hamas. His two comrades were killed in the raid. This was in June 2006, so he has spent over 900 days in a Palestinian dungeon.

The last confirmed knowledge of his status was received in June 2008, when a letter in his handwriting was delivered to the Red Cross.

An old family story says that my Great Grandad, a Scotsman who served in the British Expeditionary Force early in the Second World War, was most proud of one thing. He risked his life under fire to save a man under his command (he was a Sergeant) during the Dunkirk evacuations in 1940.

Why? Because you never leave a comrade, was his response. The soldier he saved was one of 'his lads', and he had sworn an oath; his honour rested on taking care of those in his charge. He'd have felt guilty for the rest of his life if he'd failed to bring one of them home without good reason.

It's a shame the Israeli government don't feel the same about Shalit, a soldier captured doing his duty.

I must confess I was quite surprised when Operation Cast Lead was called off, seemingly without the Israelis demanding Shalit's release as one of the main conditions of a ceasefire.

Gilad Shalit's parents have moved into a tent next to Ehud Olmert's house to draw attention to their son's plight. It now appears that hundreds of protesters have blocked the main road to his residence, urging him to honour his promise to free Gilad.

Good; Shalit, like hundreds of thousands of young Israelis, swore an oath and picked up a gun to protect his country. They risk their lives for Israel everyday.

The least they can expect is to never be abandoned to the tender mercies of Hamas.

2 comments:

Comrade Tovya said...

I agree. Abandoning him is a travesty, but releasing hundreds of terrorists who will kill more people is not the wise way to go about doing so.

And unfortunately, that's one of the main options the family is pushing for.

The Venerable 1st Earl of Cromer said...

Comrade Tovya:

Thanks for stopping by. I think you're right, most of Israel's past prisoner-swaps have been ridiculously one-sided.

I would have liked to see the Israeli government make this issue a non-negotiable part of the cease-fire - that chance might not come again.