A billboard calling for the release of abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit is scheduled to go up on La Cienega Boulevard in Los Angeles, Calif., on Monday. Shalit was abducted in 2006 by Hamas, the ruling political party in the Gaza Strip, and has been in captivity ever since. This month, Shalit turns 25.
The billboard displays a large photograph of Shalit along with the text, “‘I was abducted by Hamas on June 25, 2006. I have been held hostage. This summer I will turn 25 years old. Where did you spend your birthday this year?’ Free Gilad Shalit.”
Gal Sitty, 28, a resident of Studio City, Calif. raised approximately $7,000 to purchase the billboard through the a new website, Epicstep.com. Sitty hopes that the billboard will keep the public focused on working toward Shalit’s release. Last month, he successfully led an effort to erect a similar billboard in New York City, at the corner of 35th St. and 10th Ave.
Epicstep.com facilitates billboard posting for one month at a time. The company was founded by Jewish entrepreneurs Lev Reys and brothers Eugene and Gene Veksler, and allows anybody to create billboards based on any type of campaign, idea or cause. Once a user creates a campaign on the website, the site provides a price quote and the location of where the billboard will be erected. The billboard creator can then use the website to collect donations to cover the cost.
Sitty told Epicstep that an estimated 300,000 see his Manhattan billboard each week, and that the billboard soon to go up in L.A. will be viewed by more than 200,000 people each week.
Speaking to the Los Angeles Jewish Journal, Sitty said he wanted “to think of ways to keep this all in the media, to raise awareness, to press leaders, and show people how important it is to help him out. In Israel everybody has many opinions, and people are divided on everything politically, but on this, there was nothing controversial about it. [They all said] they want Gilad Shalit back.”