Come this Friday, 25 June, the abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, now 23, will have been held in captivity by Hamas somewhere in Gaza for four years. During that time his captors have allowed no international aid agency, including the Red Cross, access to this unfortunate young man. Blindfolded, bound, and barefoot, he appeared on a Hamas propaganda poster; a cruel animated 3D film under Hamas's auspices mocked his father's attempts to have him released, and depicted Gilad in a coffin as his distraught father looked on; Gilad appeared, looking thin, in a video which his captors made available in exchange for the release by Israel of a number of Palestinian women prisoners.
There have been reports that the Free Gaza Movement, which took part in the recent "humanitarian" flotilla, refused to grant the Shalit family's request that the movement's representatives urge Hamas to allow Gilad regular visits from the Red Cross and letters and food packages from home. In view of Benjamin Netanyahu's easing of the Gaza blockade with nothing in return from Hamas regarding the fate of Gilad Shalit, it is not surprising that his family are now accusing the Israeli government of effectively forsaking him.
Yet Gilad is not forsaken: across the world, there have been gestures of support for him ranging from the conferral of honorary citizenship by Paris and other metropolises to rallies and marches. The Knesset has announced a new initiative to ensure that he is not forgotten, and the Jerusalem Post has opened a petition calling for his release. Irrespective of our own personal views on the Israel/Palestinian question, it would surely be a noble gesture if on Friday we all wore yellow ribbons to show that we are thinking of this young man, and to write to our lawmakers reminding them of his plight, as well as joining in any demonstrations that may be arranged in our areas to express solidarity with him and demand his immediate release and return to his country and his family. If the unthinkable has occurred, and Hamas has put Gilad to death, then by that action we shall know them.