Gilad Shalit Freed!
(Left: Shalit speaks with his family by phone from Cairo; right: Shalit with his father, Noam, PM Benjamin Netanyahu, and Defense Minister Ehud Barak)
As Gilad Shalit’s family welcomes him home after five harrowing years of his captivity by Hamas in Gaza, the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington join our voices to those across Israel and the free world welcoming Gilad home at last.
After 1,941 days in captivity, Gilad is free. The JCRC is thrilled to announce that the Gilad Watch Clock, which has held silent count every day Gilad was imprisoned in Gaza, is now still.
As Gilad returns to his home and his people, over 470 Palestinian prisoners convicted of crimes and acts of terror are also being set free in what is only the first phase of the prisoner exchange deal arranged for Gilad’s freedom. These criminals and terrorists are being received with celebration and praise by Palestinian and Arab leaders. While we rejoice in Gilad’s freedom our thoughts and prayers also remain committed to the bereaved families in Israel who have lost loved ones at the murderous hands of those being released today. We recognize the difficult and courageous decisions made by the government of Israel in making this deal and recognize the strength of Jewish values needed to secure his release even under these extremely difficult circumstances.
Our community has had Gilad in our hearts and prayers for five long years. We have lobbied and rallied and worked for his release. Today we stand with his parents, Aviva and Noam Shalit who have stood strong in an unrelenting media and advocacy campaign to get their son home safe. We join them in saying, Gilad, Welcome home.
For up-to-date information, follow the IDF Spokeperson on Twitter or the Israeli news source YNet.