Israeli Soldier Returns Home

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An Israeli soldier enjoys his first moments of freedom after being imprisoned for more than five years in the Gaza strip. Our correspondents have more on this remarkable story.

Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit returns home. He was held captive by Hamas forces in Gaza for over five years. Shalit was released by the Hamas group as part of a deal signed with Israel.

Prime Minister Netanyau met Shalit at the air force base.

[Benjamin Netanyau, Israeli Prime Minister]:
"A while ago I greeted Gilad Shalit when he stepped down from the helicopter and I accompanied him to his parents, Aviva and Noam. I said to them, ‘I brought your son back home’."

The family asked for privacy and stayed away from the media.

[Benjamin Netanyau, Israeli Prime Minister]:
"When I came back to the prime minister position, one of the most important and complicated issues was to bring back our soldier, Gilad Shalit, home alive and healthy. Today this mission was completed and it involved making a hard decision."

The price paid for Shalit’s release is high. Israel has agreed to release 1,027 Palestinian prisoners that were convicted of being involved with terrorism. Many of them were sentenced to life imprisonment.

It was a difficult time for Shalit and his family. The only proof that he was alive was a video provided by the Hamas in 2009.

When Shalit was held in captivity, the Red Cross was not allowed to visit him.

The release process of Gilad Shalit and the Palestinians prisoners was done cautiously between Israel and the Hamas. Shalit was set free after 27 Palestinians female prisoners were released and transferred to the Red Cross staff.

After being released by the Hamas, Shalit was transferred to Egypt and said in an interview, "I was afraid that I could stay in captivity for many more years"...

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