Sgt. First Class Shalit returned to Israel on October 18, 2011, following over five years in captivity at the hands of Hamas
Date: 18/10/2012, 12:14 PM Author: IDF (Zahal) Website
One year ago today, Sgt. First Class Gilad Shalit returned to Israel and was reunited with his family, after over five years in captivity at the hands of the Hamas terror organization.
On the morning of Tuesday, October 18, 2011, SFC Shalit was brought from the Gaza Strip into Egyptian territory and transferred from the hands of Hamas into the care of representatives of the Egyptian Government, making his way to the Rafah crossing. He then met IDF (Zahal) representatives, crossing into Israel at the Kerem Shalom crossing, finally ending his captivity.
In the following hours, SFC Shalit reunited with his parents. Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu greeted him at that point, saying, “Hello, Gilad. Welcome back to the State of Israel. It’s great to have you back home.”
As the newly liberated soldier met with his family for the first time in over five years, Chief of the General Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz discussed Shalit’s return to Israel. “Today we conclude a chapter that started… when an IDF (Zahal) tank was attacked with Gilad Shalit, Lt. Chanan Barak and Staff Sgt. Pavel Slotzker who were killed, and Staff Sgt. Roee,” said Lt. Gen. Gantz. “With the Israeli government’s decision to return SFC Gilad Shalit, this operational and ethical mission is complete after five years, for Israel, for the IDF (Zahal), for the Shalit family and for SFC Gilad Shalit himself.”
“The IDF (Zahal) welcomes SFC Shalit today,” the Chief of Staff continued. “Gilad has returned to his country and his family and will now commence the personal journey to return to a normal and appropriate life. The IDF (Zahal) will continue to accompany Gilad and his family as needed and wishes them best of luck with their renewed path.”
Gilad Shalit’s captivity began Sunday morning, June 25th, 2006. Shalit, a 19-year-old corporal at the time, was kidnapped by a terrorist cell that attacked his tank in Israel. The terrorists had crossed the border from Gaza into Israel, using an underground tunnel dug near the Kerem Shalom crossing. During the attack, the tank commander, First Lt. Hanan Barak, and another soldier in the tank, Staff Sgt. Pavel Slotzker, were killed. Terrorists then kidnapped Shalit, taking him into the Gaza Strip via the tunnel that they had dug.
Israel’s government approved the agreement to free Shalit during a cabinet meeting held on the night of Tuesday, October 11, 2011. Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu discussed the trade at the time, saying, “This is a difficult decision, though leadership is tested in times like these, in its ability to make difficult decisions. I am returning Gilad Shalit home, to his parents Noam and Aviva, his brother Yoel, his sister Hadas, his grandfather Tzvi and to the Israeli people.”