gilad shalit is 21 years old today. this is gilad’s 2nd birthday in captivity, somewhere in gaza, ever since his abduction on june 25th 2006. a young israeli soldier waits in a dark damp cellar, deep underground, secluded from the world, counting the days. perhaps he does not even realize it is his birthday today.
gilad may be an out of the ordinary young man, but as a soldier his destiny matters hugely to all israelis. military service plays a huge part in every israeli life. in a small country with a large recruited army everyone has a close relative or friend serving in the idf. no israeli can fail to be moved by gilad’s smiling face on the front pages of israeli newspapers, calling for his release and remembering his birthday, and by the ordeal of his family.
father, noam shalit, stands by a table decorated for a birthday party for gilad in the rabin square in tel-aviv. hila and i drove to tel-aviv to show our support for the family. it was the saddest birthday party i have ever attended.