The children also urged Aviva Shalit, the mother of the Israeli captive, 19-year-old Corporal Gilad Shalit, to understand the grief they have suffered by having relatives taken into custody.

At a news conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Sunday, several of the children read statements addressed to the captured Israeli soldier's mother, Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, and Kofi Annan, the UN secretary-general.

Mubarak's government is leading negotiations aimed at persuading Palestinian fighters who captured Shalit near the Gaza-Israeli border on June 25 to free him.

Israeli forces have invaded Gaza in an effort to find Shalit or to force the fighters to free him.

Appeal

"We want you to care about our fathers the same as you do about the Israeli soldier," said Ansar Bayoud, 13, son of Yousef Bayoud, a Palestinian detained in the Israeli prison camp of Ketziot in southern Israel.

Eman Abu Shalbak, 13, the daughter of Mohammed Abu-Shalbak, another prisoner there, said to Shalit's mother: "We know that you are so eager to have your son back in your lap, eager to hold him, to know anything about him and this is your right. But could you stop for a while and think of the thousands of Palestinian prisoners in your jails?"