Activists dismantle the Gilad Shalit protest tent outside the Israeli prime minister's office in Jerusalem
Activists on Sunday dismantled a protest tent where the family of newly-freed Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit campaigned for his release during his years of captivity in Gaza. © Gali Tibbon - AFP
Activists dismantle the Gilad Shalit protest tent outside the Israeli prime minister's office in Jerusalem
AFP
Last updated: October 23, 2011

Israel activists dismantle Shalit campaign tent

Activists on Sunday dismantled a protest tent where the family of newly-freed Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit campaigned for his release during his years of captivity in Gaza.

The tent, set up near the Jerusalem home of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, became home for Shalit's parents Noam and Aviva, as well as some of their supporters seeking to pressure the premier to win the soldier's release.

With Shalit's return home on October 18, under a deal that will see Israel free 1,027 Palestinian prisoners, activists said there was no longer any need for the tent.

"This is one of the best days of my life," said Ohad Kaner, who spent 15 months as the key coordinating official for the tent, which was the focal point for years of efforts to push for Shalit's release.

It was first put up four years ago, as initial hopes of a deal to secure the young soldier's freedom began to fade. Then in June 2010, Noam and Aviva Shalit decided to up their pressure by moving into the tent.

There, they received visitors ranging from high-ranking Israeli officials and foreign dignitaries to school children. On a giant board, they kept track of the number of days since their son's June 25, 2006 capture.

But with Shalit back with his parents at their family home in northern Israel, activists said they were able to come full circle, pulling down the tent they helped set up.

"Dismantling this tent, which we put up with our own hands, has been our dream for a year and a half, it's a moment of great happiness," said Adi Phillips-Boren, 45, who helped oversee meals for the Shalit family and their supporters.

"I gave all my time to this cause, now I can finally resume a normal life," she added.

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