By AMY TEIBEL, Associated Press Writer – Sun Jun 27, 3:11 pm ET
Sgt. Gilad Schalit was taken captive four years ago during a cross-border raid by . His parents say they will camp outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's official residence until the government wins the release of their 23-year-old son, who hasn't been seen in person since he was seized.
"Today we say, 'We won't wait any longer, we won't wait any longer in our home,'" Schalit's father, , said before the start of the march.
's leaders, he added, "have to put an end to this sad saga." Israel
Thousands, including supermodel Bar Refaeli and dozens of local celebrities, are expected to join the march from the Schalits' home in northern
Israel to . Jerusalem
Police spokesman said about 2,000 supporters accompanied the family as it left its home in the small community of Mitzpe Hila on the Israel-Lebanon border. Many wore yellow ribbons or T-shirts with the soldier's photo.
Some carried signs reading, "Gilad Schalit, we're waiting at home for you," and "The , Gilad Schalit is screaming, 'Help!'"
Schalit's ordeal has touched a nerve in
, where military service is compulsory for most Jews, and almost all Jewish families have relatives who serve. The march dominated Israeli newspapers Sunday, and one leading daily, Haaretz, implored the government to make the necessary concessions to bring Schalit home. A recent poll suggested that a large majority of Israelis would be willing to see convicted killers released so he could go free. Israel
The Schalits launched the protest march after
Israel eased its blockade of last week without assuring their son's release. Gaza
That embargo was eased in recent weeks after a deadly Israeli raid on a blockade-busting flotilla drew an international outcry over the plight of affected by the embargo.
Schalit's parents now say the Israeli government has abandoned their son and lost important leverage over Hamas by easing the blockade.
Netanyahu told his Cabinet on Sunday that the government was working to free the serviceman and urged the international community "to stand by the state of
in its unequivocal and just demand that our captive soldier be returned immediately." Israel
Little is known about Schalit's condition. His captors have barred any and released only a brief videotaped statement last year to prove he was still alive.
Hamas had no comment on the march Sunday.
Also Sunday, Palestinians clashed with Israeli police in east
near an enclave of Israeli settlers in the neighborhood of Silwan. Police said around 150 protesters threw stones, slightly wounding six policemen. There were no immediate reports of injured protesters. Jerusalem