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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 July 2006, 16:30 GMT 17:30 UK
Soldier's father in the spotlight
By Martin Patience
BBC News website, Jerusalem

Noam, father of Cpl Gilad Shalit
After a week, Noam Shalit began to gently question the official line
The father of Cpl Gilad Shalit was thrust into the media spotlight when his son was captured by Palestinian militants more than a week ago.

The bespectacled Noam Shalit makes daily appearances in his front garden to speak with the press camped outside of the family home.

With little visible emotion, he has for more than week refused to be drawn into criticising the Israeli government or army's handling of the crisis, expressing the family's belief that they would do all they could to secure the release of their son.

But on Monday, Mr Shalit's composure appeared to crack after remarks by Israeli government minister that releasing Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the soldier would leave Israel vulnerable to similar capture attempts in the future.

"It seems unrealistic to me to say that Israel can restore its deterrent capability at the expense of Gilad," Mr Shalit told an Israeli TV current affairs programme in response to the minister's comments.

'Warnings of attack'

"My son does not have such broad shoulders. If Israel had wanted to regain its deterrent capability, in my humble opinion, it ought to have done so before the abduction - when there were all sorts of warnings about the tunnels, and that was when our deterrent capability ought to have been restored," Mr Shalit said.

We are not reacting to everything that appears on the internet, and if there is something concrete, we will be briefed
Noam Shalit

Since the beginning of the hostage crisis, the Shalit family have faced intense media scrutiny.

Visits from the Israeli army chief of staff and other officials have been widely covered in the Israeli media.

But many neighbours of the family have remained tight-lipped refusing to speak the press.

Front pages

More than a week after the soldier's capture, the crisis continues to command front pages in all the major Israeli newspapers.

Possible outcomes and analyses of the crisis flood airwaves, crowd newspaper columns, and regularly appear on websites.

While many Israelis are turning to the media for news on the crisis, Mr Shalit is more wary.

"We are not reacting to everything that appears on the internet, and if there is something concrete, we will be briefed," the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz reported Mr Shalit as saying.




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