And Sgt Gilad Shalit was Released exactly One Year Ago today ~ 18th October, 2011.
Gilad (19 at the time of his abduction, 25 at the time of his release) was born on August 28, 1986. The son of Aviva and Noam Shalit, brother to Yoel and Hadas and both an Israeli and French citizen. Gilad was kidnapped when his army unit was attached by Hamas terrorists on June 25th, 2006. Gilad was born in Nahariya but was raised from the age of two in Mitzpe Hila in the western Galilee. He graduated with distinction from the science class of Manor Kabri High School and began his military service about a year before his abduction ~ at the end of July 2005. Despite a low medical profile, he preferred to serve in a combat unit, and followed his elder brother Yoel into the Armoured Corps.
On June 25th, 2006, Shalit, then a corporal, was captured in a cross border raid near the Kerem Shalom crossing to the Gaza Strip by palestinian terrorists and was held hostage by Hamas since that time until this day last year. During the attack, in which the terrorists dug underneath the border before emerging and subsequently spraying automatic fire and grenades, two IDF soldiers ( Pavel Slutsker and Chanan Barak, z'l) were killed and three other soldier were also wounded. Gilad too was wounded when captured.
The IDF released this statement on his capture ..... "At 5:40 AM, a squad of terrorists from the Hamas and Popular Resistance Committee organizations, infiltrated into Israeli territory in the area of the Kerem Shalom and Sufa border crossings through a tunnel that was dug from the area of Rafah. The terrorists, under cover of mortar and anti-tank missile fire, attacked a number of military targets, among them a tank. IDF forces immediately responded in force, from which at least two of the terrorists were killed. This terror attack was perpetrated with help from Hamas generals and had the go ahead from the Hamas leadership. The IDF subsequently holds the Palestinian Authority and the Hamas as responsible for this dastardly attack and for the fate of the kidnapped soldier".
The IDF immediately launched Operation Summer Rains in which infantry units advanced into Gaza in an attempt to secure the release the immediate release of Shalit. The operation though was unsuccessful and within a matter of weeks the Hezbollah abduction of soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev into Lebanon turned Israel's attention to their northern flank. Israel initially stated that it would not negotiate for the release of Shalit, but international intervention from Egypt, Germany and the European Union resulted in eventual efforts to work out an exchange deal.
On August 28th, 2011, Israel marked Shalit's twenty-fifth birthday, his sixth in captivity. In anticipation of his birthday, Shalit's parents ~ who had begun camping outside the Prime Minister's residence in Jerusalem as a sign of public protest more than a year earlier in 2010 ~ released a letter they hoped would reach Gilad. In the letter, his parents wrote, "You must believe that we do not forget you, we do not forget the fact that next Sunday you will be 25 years old, that this is your sixth birthday in captivity, that more than a fifth of your young life has been spent in a dungeon, a Hamas pit."
The last sign of life released by Hamas had been in October 2009 when the terrorist organization released a video of the soldier in which a gaunt & subdued Shalit could be seen reading a written message that called on Prime Minister Netanyahu to do everything in his power to free him. Hamas shrank from providing any other proof that Shalit was still alive despite repeated requests to do so.
Finally, on October 11th, 2011, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the signing of an exchange deal to secure the release of Shalit. Put together with help from German mediators and the Egyptian government, the deal stipulates that Israel will release 1,027 palestinian prisoners in a staggered move over the following months. The Government approved the agreement by a large majority in its Cabinet of 26 ministers in favour and 3 against. So, one Jewish life is worth 1,000 arab lives ..... and it was they who set this perameter. Israel must remember it for the future!
During the discussions outlines were heard by the heads of the security services, Director of the Shin Bet Yoram Cohen, Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, Director of the Mossad Tamir Pardo. and the Prime Minister's special envoy to the negotiations David Meidan, presented the agreement and its various aspects and expressed their support in it. But, the decision to release mass murderers of Jews & Israeli's who would return to their genocidal goals upon release was a bitter and rancorous one. And, Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu acknowledged ..... "This is a difficult decision to make, but a leadership is examined in moments like these, in its ability to make difficult decisions. I am bringing Gilad Shalit home, to his parents Noam and Aviva, his brother Yoel, his sister Hadas, his grandfather Zvi, and the people of Israel."
In the early afternoon of October 18th, 2011, One year ago today, Sergeant Gilad Shalit was set free and returned to Israel and his waiting parents after 1,940 days in Hamas captivity. Preliminary medical and psychological exams were performed on Shalit at an IDF base in the south of the country and he was deemed healthy and strong enough to meet his parents and travel home. Shalit was promoted to the rank of Sergeant first class, his Freedom purchased.
I think the photographs above show the effect of his year at home ..... Shalom Gilad Shalit!!!!