For the sixth consecutive year, abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit will spend his birthday in Hamas captivity. Shalit, who turns 25 on Sunday, was two months shy of his 20th birthday when he was abducted by Hamas militants in a cross-border raid in June 2006.
Shalit’s 25th birthday comes days after London-based newspaper Al-Hayat reported that the most recent round of indirect talks between Israel and Hamas, mediated by Egypt, over a prisoner swap ended without an agreement. The report also said negotiations were postponed indefinitely.
Marking his 5 years in captivity, Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister, John Baird, on June 24, 2011 called for the immediate and unconditional release of Gilad Shalit, reminding Canadians that:
“Canada has repeatedly called for the release of Gilad Shalit, and we repeat that call today. We support efforts by the International Committee of the Red Cross to gain access to Staff Sergeant Shalit, and we call upon his Hamas captors to permit that access immediately.” “On behalf of the government and the people of Canada, I call for the immediate and unconditional release of Gilad Shalit.”