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News Coverage of Gilad's Release
Gilad Shalit was born in the northern Israeli town of Nahariya, and raised from the age of two in Mitzpe Hila in the western Galilee. He graduated with distinction from Manor Kabri High School. He is the son of Aviva and Noam Shalit and the brother of Yoel and Hadas, now aged 25 and 18 respectively.
Always with a shy and hesitant smile on his face, Gilad is well-mannered, quiet and introverted. He constantly volunteered to help those around him and is simply a joy to be around. Like many young men his age, Gilad’s great love is sport, or more specifically basketball, which he has played since he was just a kid.
Gilad began his military service in July 2005, about a year before his abduction. Despite medical problems which would have allowed him to avoid combat duty, Gilad unhesitatingly requested to follow in his brother footsteps and serve in the armored corps, where he knew he would be serving on the frontlines. Once his training was over, Gilad’s unit was tasked with the extremely dangerous mission of defending and ensuring the security of the isolated communities is southern Israel near the Gaza Strip.
On June 25, 2006, Gilad was on guard duty when terrorists attacked the base, killed two soldiers and wounded three others. The terrorists entered the base through tunnels they had dug from the Gaza Strip into the army base itself. As if killing teenagers is not enough, the terrorists abducted Gilad, thus sending him, his family, and the whole of Israel into a torment incomparable in size.
Like many Israeli families, the Shalit’s have had more than their fair share of anguish; Noam’s twin brother was killed during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. The horror for the Shalit family though, was just beginning.
Gilad was held by Hamas in Gaza for over five years. For 64 months he was been denied his basic human rights, such as communication with his family and visits from the Red Cross or other human rights organizations, in violation of all international rules and norms. Gilad was finally released on October 18, 2011. At the time of his abduction Gilad Shalit was 19; he is now 25 years old.