Israel sends plea for soldier to French first lady

5th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday used a visit to the Elysee Palace to pass a plea on behalf of a captive Israeli soldier from his wife to French first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy.

Speaking to journalists after a meeting with President Nicolas Sarkozy, Netanyahu said he fowarded a letter from Sara Netanyahu, a campaigner for the release of Gilad Shalit who was captured by Palestinian militants in 2006 and is still held captive somewhere in the Gaza Strip.

"We spoke at length about the issue of Gilad. Gilad, as you know is not only an Israeli citizen but also a French citizen," he said. "I passed him the letter from my wife to his wife...she addressed her not only as the wife of a prime minister to the wife of a president but also mother-to-mother."

Gilad Shalit, now 24, was seized in a dawn cross-border raid in 2006 by three groups of Gaza militants including Hamas, the Islamist movement which rules the coastal strip.

Hamas has demanded that Israel release hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Shalit's freedom, including scores of militants responsible for deadly attacks.

"I hope that you can find some way to help Israel in its efforts to free our kidnapped soldier," Sara Natanyahu wrote in the letter, a copy of which was given to AFP.

"As you know, Gilad Shalit ... has been held captive for the past five years by Hamas, which has even denied the Red Cross access to him," she added. "I know that both our husbands are working tirelessly for his release and I hope that you can assist in this noble effort."

© 2011 AFP

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