JERUSALEM – The family of a captured Israeli soldier, flanked by hundreds of supporters, set out Sunday on a 12-day march to Jerusalem to press their government to make a deal with Hamas militants to win his freedom.

Sgt. Gilad Schalit was taken captive four years ago during a cross-border raid by militants from the Gaza Strip. 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.

“Today we say, ‘We won’t wait any longer, we won’t wait any longer in our home,”‘ Schalit’s father, Noam Schalit, said before the start of the march. Israel’s leaders, he said, “have to put an end to this sad saga.”

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 Micky Rosenfeld 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 government of Israel, Gilad Schalit is screaming, ‘Help!’ “

Israel has agreed to release many of the 1,000 Palestinian prisoners that Hamas wants freed, but has balked at freeing some who were convicted in deadly attacks on Israelis. It also objects to releasing them to their homes in the neighboring West Bank for fear they would establish militant footholds there, and wants them deported.

The Schalits launched the protest march after Israel eased its blockade of Gaza last week without assuring their son’s release.