His father Noam called on Israeli fathers to close their eyes for three minutes as a reminder of Gilad's ordeal. His brother used the opportunity to talk about sports events since his brother was taken by Hamas:
"My wish, today, on the 25th of June, 2009, from every person in the state, man and woman, from children to the elderly, is to close your eyes for three minutes," he told the station. "For just three minutes close your eyes and wait until those minutes pass, and during that time, try to think about what my son, Gilad, has gone through, a young man who is waiting with bated breath - not just three minutes, and not just three hours, and not even just three days, but is waiting in darkness and despair, mentally and physically tortured, to regain his freedom which was taken from him three years ago."Israel, meanwhile, is significantly reducing its presence in five West Bank cities, in the hopes that the Palestinian Authority takes over responsibility for thwarting terrorism from those locations. It's a limit on IDF raids to thwart terrorism. We shall see.
Yoel Schalit chose to use the occasion to speak directly to his brother.
"Gilad, my dear brother, after three years in captivity I thought you might like to know a little bit about the things that have happened here," he began.
"In the Beijing Olympics, which you would have watched, Michael Phelps broke seven world records and won gold medals. Israel came back with a bronze medal in sailing, Maccabi Tel Aviv got to the finals of the Euroleague but lost to Moscow, and Spain won the European championship," the brother continued.
"Thousands of discharged soldiers left to travel all over the world; you could've traveled with them," Yoel said. "There are so many beautiful trails in this country, you walked them. Today in Israel there are 200,000 students, you could've been one of them. There are plenty of other things that happened and are still happening, and I'm waiting to tell you about them."
At the same time, Palestinian thugs fired on the IDF from Gaza. No injuries were reported.
A print ad to run in Gazan newspapers by the Israeli human rights group B'tselem to free Shalit was refused. Go figure.
"They ('Palestine' newspaper staff) did not give us a reason for the refusal, but we assume it's because the issue is a complex one (in the Hamas-ruled territory). The press in Gaza is apparently not so free. The ad was published in Al-Quds, and we hope the residents of Gaza will read it there."Only now does this group realize there's no such thing as a free press in Gaza? Hamas runs a terror state in Gaza, and has from the moment it kicked Fatah out. They control every aspect of the territory, and human rights are a distant memory there.
The B'Tselem spokeswoman continued to say that "the Red Cross is forbidden from visiting Shalit, and his family hasn't received a letter or another sign of life from him. No one knows what condition he's in or in what conditions he is being held.
"B'Tselem is demanding the release of Shalit and that of all the Palestinian prisoners who are being held illegally (by Israel)," she said.
No human rights group has been able to see Shalit, including the International Red Cross. There have been no calls by human rights groups for Shalit to be released as a good will gesture - without linkages to Israel releasing Palestinian terrorists. As noted above, B'Tselem links the two, claiming Israel holds these terrorists illegally.
The situation today is unchanged from what it's been since the moment he was captured. Hamas has always intended to use Shalit as a pawn to secure the release of hundreds of terrorists from Israeli jails. That was their plan all along. They've seen it work for Hizbullah and they've had success with this kind of excruciating barbarism in the past. Israel usually relents at some point and releases hundreds of Palestinian terrorists from jail to secure the release of Israeli remains or occasionally a live Israeli held by the terrorists.
Hamas has had multiple opportunities to provide a humanitarian gesture and release Shalit, but has refused to do so at every turn. Even multiple visits by former President Jimmy Carter have done nothing to secure his release. In fact, I doubt Shalit's name ever came up in Carter's multiple visits.
I feel for the anguish of Shalit's family, and the Netanyahu government now faces the same situation that his predecessor faced. The Israeli government must protect not only Shalit, but all other Israelis against the potential of being captured and used as pawns to secure the release of still more terrorists from Israeli jails. It's a delicate balancing act, and the government has failed miserably to do anything other than maintain the status quo from the moment he was captured.
There is a report indicating that Shalit may be released within hours or days. We've been here before, and until we see him entering Israel to meet his family, friends, and supporters, consider the rumors to be just that. In fact, minutes after that report, other reports deny that there has been any deal although something could be in the works.
In other words, this is the same nonsense we've seen for three years. Hamas is just yanking Israel's chain yet again - on the anniversary of Shalit's capture no less.