Israel Marks Four Years since Shalit's Abduction

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JERUSALEM, Israel - Israel marked Friday as the forth anniversary since since IDF Cpl. Gilad Shalit was taken captive by Palestinian terrorists.

On June 25, 2006, Shalit was kidnapped in a cross-border attack on an army outpost near the Kerem Shalom crossing with the Gaza Strip.

The terror cell entered Israel through a tunnel dug under the security fence. Once inside Israel proper, they made their way to the outpost, where they opened fire, killing two soldiers and wounding three. They escaped back through the tunnel with Shalit, who had also been wounded.

Within days after the kidnapping, negotiations for his release began. Hamas demanded 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Shalit. They also demanded that Israel agree to cease all military activity against them.

Over the years hopes for his release have been raised, then dashed, again and again. From time to time, Palestinian officials released statements to the media alleging that Shalit's release was imminent.

But four years of negotiations have yielded little more than a few letters, an audio-taped statement and later a videotaped statement to prove that he was still alive.

His Islamist captors never allowed him to have a visitor - no family members, government officials, not even the International Red Cross. In contrast, Israel allows families and friends of Palestinians serving time in Israeli jails to visit.

Third-party mediation led first by Egyptian Intelligence chief Omar Suleiman and later by a German delegation failed to move the process forward.

Hamas would submit the names of prisoners they wanted released, Israel would review the list and return it. Hamas would then add and subtract other names, announcing periodically that progress was being made, only to renege a few days later and blame Israel for failing to meet their demands.

From time to time, Palestinian television features programming mocking Shalit's captivity. This spring, they aired an animated film voiced in Hebrew with Arabic cut lines depicting his dad dreaming of his son's body being returned in a coffin.

Shalit's father has traveled extensively over the past several years, speaking with diplomats and politicians abroad in an effort to secure their help for his son's release.

On Sunday, thousands of Israelis will begin an 11-day march with his parents, Noam and Aviva Shalit, from their home in the Galilee to the prime minister's official residence in Jerusalem.

His parents have vowed that this time they will not to return to their home until Gilad has been released.

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