Gilad Shalit is back home!

By Michal Kohane, Director of the Israel Center

Wall near the Israeli prime minister's residence with notes for Gilad Shalit. Photo by Adiel Lo.

With joyful hearts we join the global Jewish community in celebrating the return of abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit. For updated details and breaking news, read the online editions of the Jerusalem Post, Ha'aretz, JTA and j. weekly. Officials in the Prime Minister's Office said that "a brief window of opportunity has been opened that would possibly lead to Gilad Shalit's homecoming.” In his speech, Netanyahu said that he is thankful he can take part in the mitzvah of “pidyom shvuyim,” freeing the captive, as Shalit should be on his way home “in the next few days.” He emphasized that he instructed the team to sign the deal which was crafted keeping in mind the obligation to Gilad’s family as well as Israel’s security.

Gilad Shalit (born August, 28 1986) was kidnapped from his post on June 25, 2006, by Hamas militants in a cross-border raid near the Kerem Shalom crossing in Israel, and has been held as a hostage at an unknown location in the Gaza Strip by Hamas since then. For more than five years, Hamas has refused requests from the International Committee of the Red Cross to allow visits to Shalit. Multiple human rights organizations have stated that the terms and conditions of Shalit's confinement are contrary to international humanitarian law. To date, the only contact between Shalit and the outside world since his capture has been three letters, an audio tape, and a DVD that Israel received in return for releasing 20 female Palestinian prisoners. The current deal consists of the release of over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners serving various terms in Israel.

This week, we will celebrate the holiday of Sukkot. Once again we will build and decorate temporary huts covered in palm branches and celebrate with a lulav & etrog. But Sukkot is also known as zman simchatenu, the season of our rejoicing. We watch closely as this breaking news develops, as we hope and pray with the Shalit family that Gilad will be able to join us all soon, turning this season indeed into a true time of rejoicing.

Categories: Israel

Posted

October 11, 2011

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