[recently posted at http://webtednews.com]
Who is Gilad Shalit - and why do we care ?
Gilad was a 19 year old Israeli tank crew member who was kidnapped by Palestinians from Israeli territory five years ago. Several of his comrades were killed in the attack. Yesterday at the age of 25, looking gaunt and malnourished Gilad was released to his family and his nation.
I am moved by the resurrection of this unlikely hero and concerned for the price Israel paid to obtain his release.
Slightly more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners were agreed to be released by Israel to win the release of this single Israeli soldier. 477 of the Palestinians have been released with the balance to be released shortly. Because these Palestinians included terrorists and combatants, Israel insisted on their being released into Gaza where security is tighter than other Palestinian areas.
Gilad was brought by helicopter to an Israeli military base to be greeted by his father, senior military officers and Prime Minister Netanyahu. News reports said that Gilad had fainted on the aircraft but was revived prior to arrival. He showed signs of malnutrition and sunlight deprivation. Dressed in military uniform again, he saluted the Prime Minister as he walked from the military helicopter.
He had been filmed for an Egyptian television interview prior to his release to Israeli officials which showed his difficult medical condition. The Israelis protested the interview prior to his being examined by Israeli physicians or receiving treatment or food as inhumane and bordering on torture.
All in all, it appears that the prisoner exchange will have little positive impact. Families of victims of the terrorists and soldiers that were released to obtain Gilad’s release expressed concern over how many more may die at the hands of those released. But for Gilad Shalit, unlikely hero of his nation, one would hope that his suffering in five years of captivity is ended.
Welcome home, Son of Israel.