The Israeli government is dismissing an Egyptian report that kidnapped Israeli Corporal Gilad Shalit is in reasonable health, according Israeli Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom.
“Unless we will be there or someone we can rely on will give us a symbol of life, I don’t think we can take rumors as proof of what’s going on,” Shalom said, following a New York rally Thursday marking the third anniversary of Shalit’s abduction.
Shalit was kidnapped in a cross-border raid by three terrorist groups including Hamas, which is now believed to be holding him in the Gaza strip. Hamas has been asking for the release of 1,400 prisoners in Israeli jails in return for Shalit’s release.
“Gilad Shalit was 19 years old [when
he was kidnapped], and unfortunately Hamas has not allowed anyone to visit him, including the International Red Cross,” Shalom said at the rally in Times Square organized by the Israel Consulate General of New York and the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York.
“We are asking today for the immediate release of Gilad Shalit, of a signal of life from Gilad Shalit and to allow the International Red Cross to go there immediately and visit him and find out what the situation is,” he said. “We’d like him back home in the near future. We are doing everything we can to bring him back home.”
Shalom pointed out that among the 1,400 prisoners Hamas is demanding in return for Shalit’s release are “hundreds and hundreds of murderers – people who killed Israeli citizens. Theses people had been sentenced to prison for years and they should stay there to maker sure they commit no terrorist activities in the future. We are asking the United States to join us in asking for the humanitarian release of Gilad Shalit immediately.”
Following the rally, organizers dispersed throughout Times Square asking people to sign postcards of support for Shalit that will be sent to his parents, Noam and Aviva.