Over 100 Israeli Arabs arrived Thursday morning at the Erez crossing point of Gaza and called for the release of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, as well as Palestinian prisoners.
Malik Faraj of the Arab village Kafr Qasim founded the “Ner LeShalom ve Ahva” (a candle for peace and love) foundation that initiated the event. Faraj said that the foundation was established following the October 2000 riots and works to promote harmony between Arabs and Jews, and helps weak sectors of society by giving student scholarships.
According to Faraj, the foundation decided to initiate the event after realizing that the negotiations to release Gilad Shalit have come to a standstill:
“Politicians are simply doing nothing to promote the matter and have completely neglected the issue of releasing Gilad Shalit and the Palestinian prisoners. That’s why we decided to go out and protest.”
The group’s visit to Erez crossing was co-initiated with another group from the Gaza Strip, whose members were waiting on the other side of the road. Throughout the demonstrations, the two groups held phone conversations and encouraged one another.
“Our goal is to pressure decision makers and members of Knesset who regretfully are more preoccupied with whether or not to travel first class, and Lieberman who is trying to inflame our relationship with Turkey or Syria but does nothing for Gilad Shalit,”
He added that:
“We received many positive feedbacks on our initiative and hope it will help promote the matter.”