BRUSSELS (EJP)---Around 1,500 people, including France’s ambassador to Belgium, rallied Thursday in the EU quarter of Brussels to mark the third anniversary of the detention of French-Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit by Hamas and to call for his release. "I am here as a gesture of solidarity and to express my concern about the fate of Gilad Shalit. France is concerned because he is also French," Ambassador Dominique Broché, who was accompanied by his Israeli colleague Tamar Samash, told EJP.
Wearing white T-shirts marked with the words "Liberté pour Gilad Shalit" (Freedom for Gilad Shalit), the people - mainly members of the Jewish community of Belgium - formed a human peaceful chain of solidarity in front of the Berlaymont, the building which headquarters the European Commission.
"We demand today with gravity the immediate and unconditional release of Gilad Shalit," Maurice Blibaum, president of the Association Belgian Support for Gilad Shalit, who organized the rally, said.
Gilad was 19-year-old when he was kidnapped by Palestinian groups in Israel near the border with the Gaza Strip. Since then, his parents have had no news from their son.
"Where is Gilad ? How does he feel ? How does he spend every day? The normal life of a young man stopped on June 25, 2006," Blibaum said, stressing that Hamas refuses a visit from the Red Cross or from any other international institution.
"This release should not be seen in terms of price or exchange but in view of the respect of fundamental human rights. This is a humanitarian urgency," he added, calling on Hamas in Gaza and outside to make proof of humanity in authorizing a medical visit in conformity with the international legislation.
"We also call on the Israeli authorities to left no stone unturned to find a compromise in order to get the release of Gilad Shalit".
"We also call on French President Nicolas Sarkozy to continue to show the same determination on this issue that led already to the release of the Bulgarian medics and Ingrid Betancourt".
During a meeting Wednesday in Paris with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Sarkozy expressed his readiness "to take any initiative to help get the release of Gilad Shalit."
The organizers of the Brussels rally handed over a letter written by Noam Shalit, father of Gilad, to European Commission President José Manuel Barroso.
"The letter was delivered to Barroso’s diplomatic adviser, Fernando Andreson," Maurice Blibaum told EJP.
The EU Jewish building, which houses the main Jewish organizations operating in the EU area, was operational in opening its doors to the organizers of the rally and the security staff.
Source: article by Yossi Lempkowicz in EJP
Gilad Shalit named honorary citizen of Paris, Rome and Miami (unfortunately nothing of the sort is forthcoming from Brussels, the capital of Europe)