Update II: Here is the first picture of Gilad Shalit in Israel, in an IDF uniform
Update: IDF spokeperson confirmed Gilad Shalit is now a free man in Israel.
Here are the first images of Gilad as he was transfered from Hamas to Egypt.
This is a special day in Israel. 5 years ago Gilad Shalit was just a regular soldier doing his job in the IDF. In the last 5 years he spend in Hamas' captivity, Gilad Shalit became an icon, he became everyone's soldier. Gilad became a symbol of Israel's duty to protect it's soldiers.
Earlier today Hamas has transferred Shalit to Egyptian hands in the first phase of the prisoner exchange deal. Shalit arrived in Egypt looking pale and thin but in general good health. Despite Israel's objection, Egypt made Shalit interview for Egyptian TV before releasing him to Israel.
While an overwhelming 79% in Israel support this deal, the release of so many terrorists with blood on their hand is very emotionally challenging to the families that lost their loved ones due to terrorist attacks by those prisoners.
This is the end of Gilad's time in captivity. But it's a beginning of a long struggle to put those terrible times behind him. Gilad regains his freedom a day before Jews celebrate the Festival of Simchat Torah. Throughout the millennium, Jews have lived by and even died to preserve their holy Torah. Yet despite it’s intrinsic holiness Jewish law demands, that a community’s last Torah scroll must be sold off to perform one special deed: Redeeming a Jew from captivity. The feeling of all for one is part of what makes Israel unique. This feeling is very strong today as people rejoice the return of Shalit home to his family.
Welcome home Gilad. May you be able to put these hardships behind you and build your live again.. Amen. May this step brings us closer to peace.