A Mother’s 1000 Days

Gilad Shalit has been held captive for 1000 days. He was a 19-year-old boy fresh in the army. He’s finished his basic training and was guarding Israel’s southern border when Hamas terrorists infiltrated and attacked. Two soldiers were murdered, three injured, and Gilad was dragged into Gaza, into hell.

For 1,000 days, Hamas has violated international law, preventing Red Cross officials from gaining access to Gilad to confirm his condition.

For 1,000 days, the world has allowed this to continue, while sending aid to the Palestinians who elected this Hamas party to be their leaders.

For 1,000 days, Aviva and Noam Shalit have gone to sleep not knowing if they will ever see their son again, and for 1,000 days, Gilad has been alone, surrounded by our enemies, waiting to come home.

Unlike Palestinian prisoners in Israeli hands, Gilad has no access to the media, no family visits, no one to confirm his condition. For a short period of time, during the Gaza war, I couldn’t reach Elie. As a commander, he was ordered to confiscate his soldiers’ telephones, but he had his with him. It was closed during much of the war, to save the battery, as he told me, and to prevent our enemies from tracking any locations.

During those few days, I felt so incredibly unable to function. How could I do what I needed to do on a daily basis when at any given moment, I didn’t know where he was, what he was doing. A missile would hit an open field…but the fields around Gaza were our staging grounds for the war. It was good that the rockets didn’t hit an Israeli city, but their hitting fields brought no comfort as well.

I can’t imagine, even for a moment, the agony that Aviva Shalit has handled for 1,000 days; I can’t imagine how she and her husband and family have continued each day to live and breathe and remind us, each of these 1,000 days, that her son – and ours – remains a captive.

Two weeks ago, hoping to avoid this very day, the Shalits moved to a protest tent in Jerusalem, where they were visited by many politicians, even “entertained” by the wife of Ehud Olmert, who certainly couldn’t understand what the Shalits are suffering. She has long since abused the term “pacifist” to promote her anti-IDF positions. One of her children refused to serve in the army. Their oldest son has long since abandoned life here, preferring to live in New York and support organizations that support soldiers refusing orders and/or service entirely and one of their daughters spends her time going to checkpoints and harassing soldiers, thinking that will somehow help the “peace movement,” which is Aliza Olmert’s obsession.

How she had the nerve to sit in the same room with Aviva Shalit, whose son had a lower army profile and demanded that the army allow him to fight in a combat unit, is amazing. Gilad didn’t have to serve in Israel’s combat units, and yet he chose to do so, while Ehud and Aliza Olmert’s own children refuse to serve the nation…putting their own selfish whims above the needs of our people.

Like his selfish children, Ehud Olmert has spent that last 1,000 days seeing to his own needs and those of his corrupt government, while Gilad waited for freedom. Olmert gave so little to the effort to bring Gilad home and this is yet another reason why he leaves the office of prime minister in disgrace. But all of that is politics on a day when the heart breaks and words fail us. How is it possible that 1,000 days have come and gone and still Gilad isn’t home?

Gilad’s father has the right to speak for himself, for his family, to his son. And in doing so, he speaks for Israel:

“It’s been a thousand days and nights since you were kidnapped by Hamas to Gaza, both we and you have been living in a nightmare, uncertain about your fate. A thousand days now that the State of Israel and its leaders, who sent you on your mission, have failed to find any solution that would bring you home, we are not even close.

“We came here exactly two weeks ago to demand of the prime minister to carry out the necessary moves to bring Gilad home without delay, before the end of your term, Ehud Olmert. The Israeli government you lead, as you like to say, sent Gilad on a mission he didn’t come back from, and it is your duty to bring him back to the IDF, to his home, and to his family.

“We say to the prime minister today – you have two more weeks to act. To act with determination and creativity and to employ everything at Israel’s disposal to save Gilad before it is too late.”

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