He became the first Israeli soldier captured by militant Palestinian forces since Nachshon Wachsman in 1994.
This past Monday, the parents and grandparents of Gilad Shalit met with Pope Benedict XVI in the residence of President Shimon Peres, pleading that the pontiff use his influence in securing his release.
Gilad's parents, Aviva and Noam, presented Benedict with an Italian translation of a children's book that was written by their son when he was only 11-years-old, entitled “When the Fish and the Shark First Met”.The Vatican has been aware of the plight of Gilad Shalit for some time -- In 2006, Papal Nuncio Archbishop Antonio Franco told The Jerusalem Post that the Vatican will do its best to ensure that abducted soldier Gilad Shalit is returned to Israel.
"I ask that his holiness exert his influence in order to bring our son back to us," Noam Shalit told the pope. "No one has had any access to him (Gilad) for the past three years, and it's been a year since we received the last sign of life from him. We would appreciate it if you would, first and foremost, help us get a sign of life from him."