Gilad Shalit is made Honorary Citizen of Baltimore
State of Maryland and Baltimore City Demand his Release
The Baltimore Zionist District convened a ceremony on Wednesday, June 29th at City Hall in which Gilad Shalit was proclaimed an honorary citizen of Baltimore, and officials of both the State and the City denounced his continued captivity, and demanded his immediate release.
The ceremony coincided with the fifth anniversary of the June 25, 2006 seizure of Gilad Shalit from Israeli territory by Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups, who dragged him into Gaza, where he remains a hostage of Hamas to this day. For five painful years Gilad Shalit has been denied the most basic of human rights. He is denied any contact with the outside world, including requests from the International Committee of the Red Cross to visit and ascertain Shalit's conditions of detention and treatment. The only signs of life that have been received are two letters, an audio message and a video message, the last of which came in October 2009. Gilad Shalit is now 24 years old, having spent almost one fifth of his life in captivity.
(Left to right) Jay Bernstein Baltimore Zionist District Advocacy Chair, Galit Baram, Counselor for Public and Academic Affairs at Israel's Embassy in Washington, DC, Izzy Patoka, Executive Director of the Governor's Office of Community Initiatives, Delegate Sandy Rosenberg, City Council Members Rikki Spector, Mary Pat Clarke and Jim Kraft./BaltimoreJewishLife.com
Representing the Baltimore City Council and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake, City Council Member Rikki Spector read proclamations from the City Council and the Mayor naming Gilad Shalit an honorary citizen of Baltimore, protesting his prolonged and inhumane imprisonment, and calling for his immediate and safe return to his family. Council members Jim Kraft and Mary Pat Clarke accompanied Ms. Spector as she read these proclamations. The proclamations of the City Council and the Mayor make Baltimore one of the few cities which have made Gilad Shalit an honorary citizen, the others being Paris, Rome, Miami and New Orleans.
On behalf of the Governor, Izzy Patoka, Executive Director of the Governor's Office of Community Initiatives, read a statement by Governor Martin O'Malley denouncing the illegal and immoral detention of Gilad Shalit, and demanding his unconditional release. The Governor stated that the hearts and prayers of Marylanders remain with Gilad's family, and stressed Maryland's "steadfast, unwavering commitment to Israel's safety, sovereignty, and security." Delegate Sandy Rosenberg affirmed his support for the Governor's statement, and stressed the important role of the proclamations issued by the Governor, the Mayor and the City Council in maintaining public awareness of Gilad's plight.
Galit Baram, Counselor for Public and Academic Affairs at Israel's Embassy in Washington, DC, attended the ceremony on behalf of the State of Israel. Ms. Baram gratefully accepted the proclamations of the Governor and Mayor, and expressed Israel's appreciation for all of their efforts on behalf of Gilad Shalit. The event concluded with BZD thanking all of the public officials who participated in the ceremony, and with the hope and prayer that City Hall will soon host a ceremony celebrating the release of Baltimore's honorary citizen, Gilad Shalit.
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