This Sunday, May 29 – Memorial Day Weekend here in the United States – marks the 1,800th day of Gilad Shalit’s captivity. He was kidnapped June 25, 2006, by Hamas in a cross-border raid, and it is believed he has been held somewhere in Gaza since then. He has been denied communication with his family or visits by the Red Cross or by human rights organizations.
Just two days ago, Gabi Ashkenazi, former chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces, admitted that he had failed to secure Shalit’s release. He was reported by Ynet as having said, “We have to admit that we do not have the ability to use military force to free Gilad…Hamas has Shalit hidden in such a way that we cannot locate him. We don’t know where he is.” Indicating that he is in favor, if necessary, of releasing Palestinian terrorists in exchange for Shalit, he added, “If we fail to manufacture a military option for his release, we have to admit it and pay a reasonable price for his return.”
Last Sunday, President Obama called for Shalit’s release in his speech to an audience of more than 10,000 at the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, in Washington, D.C.
In the meantime, Israelis, Jews and others around the world will be marking Shalit’s 1,800th day in captivity in different ways. A new website for reciting Tehillim (Psalms) for Shalit has gone up. According to the site’s creator, Barry Kupfer, “The idea is that all of Tehillim should be recited every day until he is released…Users will need to register to the site and then can select an open section to recite.”
Those inclined to gun engines rather than mumble prayers, can join the “Ride for Gilad,” which will be part of “Rolling Thunder,” the annual demonstration by motorcycle riders on the National Mall to boost awareness of the plight of POWs and MIAs.
Israel’s Channel 2 News has called on the artistic and technologically savvy set to make their own videos of themselves singing along to Eyal Golan’s “Mizmor L’Gilad,” a pop composition that yearningly and prayerfully splices together various liturgical verses and phrases. Channel 2 will make a collage of videos uploaded by viewers.
Those who are in Israel on Sunday, can join the Shalit family and their supporters in their protest tent, which has been standing near the Prime Minister’s home in Jerusalem since July 2010. Or they can join the family at their weekly Sunday 8:30 a.m. sit-in opposite the Prime Minister’s office.