Netanyahu Speech Angers Gilad Shalit's Family

It has been four years since the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was kidnapped by Hamas gunmen in a daring cross-border raid from Gaza.

To mark that anniversary his parents Noam and Avivia are marching from their home in the north of Israel to the prime minister's office in Jerusalem, demanding more action to release him. They have been joined by thousands of supporters.

Thursday night Benjamin Netanyahu responded to growing popular anger at the apparent impasse in negotiations to swap Shalit for hundreds of Palestinian militants. In a televised address from his office he told the nation he was willing to pay a heavy price for the solder's return, but "not any price."

The deal on the table is a painful one for Israelis. But so is the price of abandoning Shalit to an unknown fate in Gaza. In a country where every 18-year-old has to serve time in the military, the idea of abandoning a missing serviceman or women is deeply unpopular.

Several times in its recent history Israel has agreed to swap large numbers of prisoners in exchange for missing soldiers, or sometimes for their bodies.

For Shalit, Hamas is demanding the release of hundreds of prisoners, some of them responsible for the deaths of dozens of Israelis in notorious bombings and shooting attacks.

Netanyahu said he was willing to release some of them but not the most notorious and he would never accept releasing them back into the Palestinian West Bank. He said he believed the risk of them going back to violence and harming more Israelis was too great.

"I see, as does every prime minister, the security of all the state's citizens. Israel is willing to pay a heavy price for the release of Shalit, but not at any price," he said.

Noam Shalit, Gilad 's father, was quick to condemn Netanyahu last night.

"Tens of thousands of citizens marching with us to Jerusalem are aware of the price for that is required for the release of Gilad – but they also know the price of abandoning him," he said.

Some 10,000 people are marching with the family today and tonight night are expected outside Netanyahu's private home in the upscale seaside community of Caesarea, where they will hold a traditional Jewish ceremony to welcome the Sabbath.

Shalit family friend Ela Hefetz said, "We feel that the prime minister is detached from the people and the family. It's as if the entire public, all of the people of Israel, are with us, except for the prime minister."

The march is expected to arrive in Jerusalem next week. The Shalits say they will not leave the prime minister's office until their son is released.

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