Thousands rally for captured Israeli soldier

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The mother of the captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit last night made an impassioned public appeal to the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to negotiate her son's release.

"Don't abandon my son, act courageously to free him," she pleaded at a rally of at least 15,000 people in a Jerusalem park after a 12-day march from Sgt Shalit's family home in northern Israel. The Shalit family and supporters now intend to maintain a constant vigil outside Mr Netanyahu's home until the 23-year-old comes home. Negotiations between Israel and Hamas to negotiate a prisoner exchange for his return failed six months ago. Urging renewed efforts to secure a deal, Mrs Shalit declared: "I won't allow you to turn my son Gilad into the only person carrying the struggle against the Palestinians."