Happy 25th birthday, Gilad Shalit!

Today is the 25th birthday of Gilad Shalit. It is the 6th birthday that he has to experience in captivity. When he was kidnapped, he was a boy of 19. Now he is a man, but one who has been deprived of enjoying the prime of his life, these years in which we attend university, have our first job, our first serious relationship, maybe even start a family.

Gilad Shalit is a dual citizen of France and Israel who was doing his compulsory military service in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) as a corporal. On 25 June 2006, he was kidnapped by Palestinian militants from the Israeli side of the border near Kerem Shalom. The militants had dug a tunnel underneath the border, ambushed the Israeli patrol on Israeli territory, killed two IDF soldiers and kidnapped Gilad Shalit to Gaza. He has been held in Gaza ever since.

Only after more than three years in captivity, in September 2009, was the first video of Gilad Shalit released by the Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas:

Efforts to negotiate Gilad Shalit’s release have so far not been successful, mainly because the hostage-takers demand the release of more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, among them convicted murderers.

I often think of Gilad Shalit when Palestinians, or people who blindly take up anything that is called “the Palestinian cause”, talk about “the occupation of Gaza”. Gilad Shalit is the only Israeli soldier in Gaza. This boy who was a 19-year old corporal at the time is not an occupying force, he is a hostage. At the time of his capture, there was no more Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip. Israel had withdrawn all its military, its police and even Israeli civilians (many of them against their will) from Gaza in 2005, almost one year before Gilad Shalit’s capture. Gilad Shalit and his unit were on Israeli territory when he was kidnapped.

Gilad Shalit is not a prisoner of war, but a hostage. There was no military confrontation between Hamas and Israel at the time of his capture. Gilad Shalit, his family and his home countries are being denied the basic rights extended to prisoners of war (POW), for example visits by the International Committee of the Red Cross, the right to know the POW’s location or the right to correspondence with his family.

When Gilad Shalit was 11 years old, he wrote a story at school, called “When the Shark and the Fish first met”. It is a story about a shark and a fish who meet and become friends. Part of it reads:

In the evening, the shark returned to his home.

His mother asked:
“How was your day, my dear shark?  How many animals did you devour today?”

The shark answered:  “Today I didn’t devour any animals, but I played with an animal called FISH”.

“That fish is an animal we eat.  Don’t play with it!” said the shark’s mother.

At the home of the fish, the same thing happened.  “How are you, little fish?  How was it today in the sea?” asked the fish’s mother.

The fish answered: “Today I played with an animal called SHARK.”

“That shark is the animal that devoured your father and your brother. Don’t play with that animal,” answered the mother.

It’s a beautiful story which you can read in full here.

Happy birthday, Gilad! I hope you will be free soon.

About Andreas Moser

Travelling the world and writing about it. I have degrees in law and philosophy, but I'd much rather be a writer, a spy or a hobo.
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8 Responses to Happy 25th birthday, Gilad Shalit!

  1. william wallace says:

    One would have expected the situation with Israel
    & Palestine to be resolved // yet Israel continuing
    to build as extend settlements on Palestinian land
    Palestinians ever forced into a smaller area where
    deprived of needed basics / water / food/ medicine.

    Such has gone on for decades / where palestinian
    people shown only appalling injustice. Slaughtered
    as to a whim of the Israeli govt / its a heartbreaking
    situation // the cruelity of Israel knowing no bounds.

    • There is not one Israeli settlement in Gaza. They have all been dismantled in 2005.

    • william wallace says:

      The destruction inflicted on Gaza is a grave crime
      the slaughter of it’s inhabitants / a ongoing horror.

  2. John Erickson says:

    There is a line from a song in the musical “South Pacific” that tells how children are innocent, and need to be taught how to hate someone for the colour of their hair, or clothing, or where they come from.
    One could debate for hours about the past history between Israel and Gaza, to no avail. Kidnapping an Israeli on Israeli territory is not a military act – there was no information to be gained. It is terrorism. The Palestinians could earn a lot of goodwill releasing this soldier. They earn nothing but hatred holding him, thus perpetuating the cycle.

    • william wallace says:

      John / There has been / decades of debate it
      not a case of more debate Its long due a USA
      stopping the support as their funding of Israel
      turning a blind eye to the crimes as committed
      by Israel / with Israel ending a long occupation.

    • John Erickson says:

      And perhaps, just perhaps, the countries around Israel recognising its’ right to exist? Ceasing to base their armies solely on the concept of attacking Israel? Ceasing terrorist attacks all over the world?
      It’s easy to over-simplify, William. It’s also easy to get hung up on the past an “he said/she said” scenarios. The area has a LONG troubled past. But imagine the PR gold mine if the Palestinians released this soldier, and maybe threw in one or two people who launched rockets onto sovereign Israeli soil?
      By going positive, the Gazans could drag a lot of public opinion over to their side, even here in the Israeli-oriented US. By holding hostages, they do no good.
      I’m not proffering more debate. I’m putting forth a PEACEFUL resolution to an issue that could easily tip the scales towards solution, not just debate. Somebody has to make the first move – why not the Gazas, to show themselves as the more noble people?
      Blind hatred of Israel is as bad as blind hatred of the Palestinians. I’d rather see a move toward peace than continued war.

  3. william wallace says:

    John / the occupation need end / it’s
    a cruel heartbreaking ongoing crime.

  4. Lali says:

    Dear William, first of all you dont seem to know much about Israel history by the way you are talking, I say u better read and learn a little bit more before you trying to pot an opinion about something so strong and big!
    Secound, I have to say something about what u said about Gilad Shalit, you are talking about terrorists that kidnapped a young man!!!! And for years and years not letting nobody hear from him or meet with him!! For all these years!!! And he never did nothing wrong!! He never killed nobody!! he was just doing he’s job!! AND he was on Israel territory!!
    Now William, did you listen to what they asking for this one innocent Israeli solider???? they asking from Israel to release MORE THEN A 1000 TERRORISTS!!! A 1000 TERRORISTS that are in our jail because they killd and murderd our kids and families!!! For 1 inecent young man!!
    Now, I dont know who u are, but if you are a dad or a brother just imagin your life if these animals toke your boy or little brother and you couldnt even hear from him for all these years!!! How whould you sleep at night!!!?!?!!? How would your holidays will look like!!?!? Now think of his family!!

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