When I consider the period of time that has elapsed since Gilad Shalit was abducted, I often think about my young nephew, who was born in Northern Israel just a few weeks after Gilad’s abduction.
On the day when Ramel entered this world, Katyusha rockets fired by people whose stated aim is to obliterate the Jewish people, rained on the place of his birth.
In a little over two weeks time, he will celebrate his fourth birthday and his family will return to his birthplace to visit relatives living and dead in their homeland, where their Jewish ancestors lived long before the current enemy had a face.
During those four years, Ramel learned to walk. Soon he could run to give his mother a big hug. He learned to talk so he could express himself, to tell people when he was hungry or tired. He went to kindergarten, made friends and discovered what it felt like to be let go and run free in the park.
Over the years, as I watched him grow, I often wondered what Gilad Shalit might be doing at that exact moment. That he could not give his mother a hug, or tell someone when he was hungry or tired. He could not study, or fall in love, and perhaps he even forgot how it felt to simply run free in the park.
The price of bringing Gilad home is dear. The terrorist organisation Hamas, who have been holding Gilad Shalit for four years in contravention to all international humanitarian laws, is calling for the release of over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails, many with the blood of Israelis and others on their hands.
The decision is tough one and the Israeli government has a dilemma on its hands. Does it show its citizens that it is a price that is prepared to be paid? How else can its leaders look their soldiers in the eyes as they enlist in the army and tell them that should something happen to them, the country will do everything it can to bring them home, and that they will never leave a soldier behind in the field?
It is true that the Israeli Government has some hard decisions to make, but the responsibility does not actually fall solely there. The world community needs to be stronger. It must show Hamas that Gilad’s captivity is simply unacceptable on every level of morality as are the conditions for his release.
While the world is so quick to criticise the supposed humanitarian crisis in Gaza, there is a strange silence when it comes to Gilad Shalit and his freedom.
Four years in terrorist captivity is four years too long.
Please keep Gilad Shalit in your thoughts today, as well as Israel’s other missing in action soldiers, Ron Arad, Yehuda Katz, Zvi Feldman, Zacharia Baumel, Guy Hever and Majdi Halabi.