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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 August 2007, 17:35 GMT 18:35 UK
Gilad Shalit's birthday marked
A poster of Corporal Gilad Shalit in Tel Aviv
Posters have been put up in public places across Israel
The family of the Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, who was captured by Palestinian militants last year, have been marking his 21st birthday.

Corporal Shalit was seized in a raid on an army post near the Gaza Strip in June 2006. Two other Israeli soldiers were killed in the raid.

His friends and family gathered for a rally in central Tel Aviv on Tuesday.

His father, Noam, said a leading Hamas newspaper had refused to print a letter from him to his son.

The editor for the Gaza-based newspaper said he would not co-operate with the Israelis.

'Hope and despair'

Corporal Shalit's cousin, Eyal Raz, told Israeli Army Radio of the family's anxiety.

"We expected all this to be over much sooner and for Gilad to come home. We are constantly hovering between hope and despair."

Noam Shalit expressed his frustration that his son was still in captivity.

"The more time passes, the more difficult it becomes, especially since at the moment nothing is moving in the talks."

The men holding Corporal Shalit have handed over a list of prisoners they want freed in exchange for him.

About 10,000 Palestinian prisoners are being held in Israeli jails, some without charge.

Egypt has been trying to broker the soldier's release, but the negotiations have been suspended because of unrest in the Palestinian territories.

Two other Israeli servicemen were captured by Lebanese Hezbollah militia in July last year.

The organisers of the rally have put flags and posters calling for the release of Corporal Shalit and the two other soldiers at central junctions and squares in Israel.

Full text: 'Shalit message'
25 Jun 07 |  Middle East
Israel army holds Shalit suspect
13 Jul 07 |  Middle East

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