In this photo, taken from a video released by Hamas of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit reading a letter to his family on September 14, 2009. The video was released by the Hamas in Gaza in exchange for the release of 19 Palestinian women prisoners today, October 2, 2009. UPI/Debbie Hill | License Photo
NAHARIYAH, Israel, June 25 (UPI) -- Israelis demonstrated Friday to demand the release of soldier Gilad Shalit four years after Palestinian militants captured him in the Gaza Strip.
As about 600 protesters marched in the Galilee city Nahariyah, 250 others demonstrated outside the Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv, Haaretz reported.
A convoy of motorcyclists visited the embassies of permanent United Nations Security Council members, urging them to push Hamas to release Shalit.
Residents of Haifa planned a Friday evening vigil where demonstrators were to release 6,000 balloons while others were to rally outside the International Red Cross office in Israel.
The Shalit family was planning a Sunday march on Jerusalem and a demonstration outside Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's official residence.
"We've said we would not allow another year to pass without Gilad, and that is what we intend to do this time," said Noam Shalit, Gilad's father. "We won't go home without Gilad."
Human Rights Watch called on Hamas Friday to let Shalit communicate with his family and receive visits from the International Red Cross.
In a statement, HRW said: "The laws of war prohibit cruel and inhuman treatment of persons in custody. They also require a party to a conflict to permit persons deprived of their liberty to correspond with their families and not to refuse arbitrarily a request by the ICRC to visit detainees."
Hamas captured Shalit June 25, 2006, and has kept him largely incommunicado, releasing just three letters, an audio tape and a video recording while refusing to allow Red Cross or HRW members to visit him. Hamas, which says visits could reveal Shalit's location, has demanded the release of hundreds of Palestinians in return for Shalit. But attempts to organize a prisoner swap have failed