Joy Mixed with Tears - Gilad Shalit to be Released
Sukkot Holiday Marks Gilad Shalit Deal
As Israel and Jewish people worldwide prepare to enter the seven-day festive holiday of Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles), commemorating the forty-year period in which the children of Israel lived in temporary shelters in the wilderness, a spirit of joy and celebration fills the rain-expectant air across the State of Israel. After 1,935 days in Hamas captivity, kidnapped IDF soldier, Gilad Shalit, is scheduled to return home, marking 26 years since an IDF prisoner was last returned alive to Israel. Last night, Prime Minister Netanyahu announced the government's courageous decision to free just over 1,000 prisoners to secure the release of Gilad Shalit. Although the deal will include the release of prisoners directly involved in deadly terror attacks, the Israeli cabinet approved the prisoner swap with a vote of 26 to 3 and it was endorsed by the IDF, Mossad, and Shin Bet.
The deal transpired after several years of massive public pressure including, a 12-day march of thousands from Northern Israel to the Prime Minister's residence in Jerusalem and years of negotiations at top government levels. Jerusalem Institute of Justice (JIJ) also advocated on behalf of Gilad Shalit. In representing Shalit's family, JIJ organized a massive demonstration in Geneva against the double standards of the Red Cross and the prolonged captivity of Gilad Shalit in 2010. JIJ was accompanied by Gilad's brother Yoel Shalit, who met privately with the Red Cross leadership and personally delivered to them a letter for Gilad. Upon the close of 2010, JIJ also submitted a briefing to the United Nations Human Rights Council, which called for an inquiry into Shalit's captivity and Hamas' countless human rights violations in the Gaza Strip and along Israel's borders.
Moreover, in the Spring of 2011, just weeks prior to Richard Goldstone's retraction of his controversial Goldstone Report, Calev Myers moderated a video-conference between the UN Committee of Independent Experts (UNCIE) and Israeli victims of Hamas rocket attacks during the Gaza conflict. In his opening statements before the UNCIE, Myers spoke on behalf of Gilad Shalit, emphasizing the fact that Gilad had been held in illegal captivity and isolation for nearly 5 years while being denied access to government officials and even representatives of the Red Cross.
As we approach the eve of Sukkot, JIJ rejoices in the prospect of Gilad Shalit's return, yet our joy is mixed with tears; we empathize with the families of terror victims who are grieving at the thought of releasing convicted terrorists back into society. We ask you to embrace them with your prayers. JIJ would like to thank you for playing a small part to bring about this exciting day - the return of an abducted Israeli soldier.