<em>Friends of Gilad Shalit preparing a protest seder outside the home of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday</em>

Friends of Gilad Shalit preparing a protest seder outside the home of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday

Gilad Shalit’s friends and an organization working for the abducted soldier’s release held a Passover seder outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s private residence Wednesday night.

Organizers said the seder was to protest the lack of progress on freeing Shalit, who has been held captive in the Gaza Strip for over 1,000 days.

“We still don’t see Gilad’s freedom on the horizon,” Gilad’s father, Noam Shalit, said Tuesday after meeting with Netanyahu at the Prime Minister’s Office.

The hour-long meeting, which was also attended by officials involved in the prisoner swap negotiations, was the first between the Shalits and the new prime minister.

Speaking after the meeting, Shalit said that this year too, for the third year in a row, the family will not hold a seder. “We won’t celebrate the seder – there’s no reason for optimism. There is a bad feeling on the holiday eve because Gilad still isn’t free. We will only celebrate when Gilad comes home,” he said.

Shalit said he hoped negotiations would be accelerated soon, but declined to comment on whether they would proceed from the point at which they stopped before prime minister Ehud Olmert left office last week.

“Gilad could have been home for the holiday had the previous prime minister made the issue a top national priority,” said organizer Yoav Balaks-Boneh, Shalit’s former company commander in the IDF. “We will mark the holiday opposite the prime minister’s home.”

Organizers invited every member of the Knesset, but none of the 120 lawmakers came.

Earlier on Wednesday, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi said Israel is making every effort to secure the release of kidnapped Shalit.

“This is the third Pesach seder without Gilad, and we are making every effort to bring him back,” Ashkenazi told Army Radio.



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