Gilad Shalit has been home for a year, and we are thrilled that he had a safe return. Below, find out more about his story.
We join with Zionists around the world in welcoming Gilad home to Israel.
“And the children of Israel shall return to their borders.”
In our joy, we also embrace those whose pain has been increased by the price that has been paid for a soldier’s return.
The polls in Israel show broad based support for the exchange deal. For the families of the victims and others concerned about future security implications it is very painful and problematic. All of these considerations were discussed and debated by the government, which approved the deal by a vote of 26-3.
As this issue will continue to be in the forefront of news in the coming days, including massive celebrations in Gaza and elsewhere, we are providing this memo providing information and talking points that may be helpful, along with an action recommendation, which we urge you to follow up.
Gilad Shalit was born in Naharia, Israel on August 28, 1986 to Noam and Aviva Shalit. He has an older brother and younger sister. On June 25, 2006, during his service in the IDF, Gilad Shalit was abducted on the Israeli side of the Kerem Shalom crossing by Hamas militants, who infiltrated through an underground tunnel. He has been held as a hostage at an undisclosed location in the Gaza Strip for more than five years, deprived of all International Red Cross medical care and visits, as required by international law. Israeli forces entered Khan Yunis on June 28, 2006 to search for Shalit, but the recovery efforts were unsuccessful. Some media reports suggested that Israel may have learned of Shalit’s whereabouts, but the location was booby trapped to prevent any rescue attempts.
The only proof of Shalit’s well-being until recently has been three letters, an audio tape, and a DVD received in exchange for the release by Israel of 20 convicted female Palestinian prisoners. A recent video was provided at the insistence of the government of Israel showing Shalit as well and able to communicate.
He was the first Israeli soldier captured by Palestinian militants since Nachshon Wachsman in 1994. Since his abduction, Shalit has been promoted from the rank of corporal to Staff Sergeant and Sergeant Major.
Shalit holds dual French and Israeli citizenship, a fact that prompted French and European Union involvement in the efforts on his behalf.
On October 11, 2011 a prisoner swap deal was announced to free Shalit in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners.