Finally. After five years Gilad Shalit is finally in Israeli hands as part of a prisoner exchange deal that will see 1027 Palestinian detainees, many serving life sentences for their direct involvement in acts of terror, freed from Israeli prison. Shalit is heading to Tel Nof air force base where he will be reunited with his family and greeted by Prime Minister Netanyahu. Afterward he is expected to go home to Mitzpe Hila, which has been closed off to all visitors. The first images of a freed Shalit were broadcast by Egyptian television and show Shalit to be gaunt and pale, but otherwise healthy. Interviewed by Egyptian TV he said:

I’m very emotional. I haven’t seen people in a long time. I missed my family. I missed seeing people, and talking to them … Of course I miss my family very much. I also miss my friends … I hope this deal will lead to peace between Palestinians and Israelis and that it will support cooperation between both sides.

Welcome home Gilad.

Gilad talks to his parents for the first time in 5 years.

Arriving at Tel Nof Air Base, Gilad is given a new IDF uniform prior to greeting family

No offense to Hamas or anything, but dang that was an ugly shirt they gave Shalit. Next time just stick with a basic one-color dress shirt.

Gilad arrives and salutes Chief of Staff (off photo) and Prime Minister

Gilad, his Dad and Netanyahu

IDF Chief of Staff hugs Gilad Shalit

Statement from UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon regarding swap:

I am very encouraged by the prisoner exchange today after many many years of negotiation,” Ban said. “The United Nations has been calling for (an end to) the unacceptable detention of Gilad Schalit and also the release of all palestinians whose human rights have been abused all the time.

I wonder if Gilad managed to get a BA while in captivity…

Shalit was in captivity for 1,935 days. 1 + 9 + 3 + 5 = 18 which in Hebrew is Chai – the word for “life” or literally, “alive.” Hat tip: Tanya Gutsol. Note the deal was announced on day 1935. He was freed on day 1941.

UPDATE: Shalit just arrived at his parents’ home in Mitspe Hila, greeted by wildly cheering crowds.

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About the author


Founder and Publisher of Jewlicious, David Abitbol lives in Jerusalem with his wife, newborn daughter and toddler son. Blogging as "ck" he's been blocked on twitter by the right and the left, so he's doing something right.


  • I wonder if this was the right move. From a Talmudic perspective, we can redeem a captive for what they are worth. Is Gilad worth 1000 murderers back on the streets?

    I am of course very happy for him and his family.

    Yet stuck in my mind is the weeping of the families who will be mourning the DEATH of their children killed by one of these released terrorists.

  • From a Conservative Talmud Scholar in Jerusalem.
    Rabbi David Golinkin, Ph.D.

    Summary and Conclusions

    We have seen that pidyon shvuyim is a major value in our tradition and that Jews have exerted great efforts to redeem captives. However, we do not pay excessive ransom “mipney tikkun olam,” for the public good. In other words, the public takes precedence over the individual, even if this endangers the individual. Exchanging hundreds or thousands of terrorists for one Israeli encourages kidnapping of Israelis, and frees hundreds or thousands of terrorists who will pick up their weapons and attack Israel. In other words, it endangers the public and should not be done.

    Rabbi David Golinkin, Ph.D., is president and rector of the Schechter Institute of
    Jewish Studies in Jerusalem, where he teaches Talmud and Jewish law, and he heads the Va’ad Halakhah (committee on Jewish law) of the Masorti, or Conservative, movement’s Rabbinical Assembly in Israel.

  • Ban Ki Moon is a fool. What a bullshit attempt at even-handedness.

    Despite the great pain for so many Israelis because of this deal, this is the kind of day that makes Israel a great country.

  • Welcome home Gilad Shalit!
    At the same time, my thoughts and prayers are with all families who have lost loved ones to cowardly acts of terror.

  • Theatre of the absurd continues: The UN is already complaining that Israel has transferred terrorists out of the country.

    BanKi Monkey is a jerk. Israel violated many human rights articles today by releaseing criminals who perpetrated crimes against humanity.

  • Best to enjoy today, for the downside starts tomorrow and will last for days, months and years to come.

  • I don’t think anybody is enjoying this except for Gilad Shalit and the terrorists. Israelis made this deal with a heavy heart and lots of concerns.

  • I think this deal is the biggest argument in favor of the death penalty that I have ever seen. Dead terrorists don’t commit acts of terrorism once they’re released. These 1,027 may very well do so, especially with an acknowledged 60% recidivism rate.

  • There are moments in the ebb and flow of life on this planet which give one pause, which give one cause to stop and, looking skyward, wonder if there will ever be an end to the madness….this is one of those moments.

    I have always supported the Jews. I have always condemned those who filled the ovens. I have always met the slightest emergence of, or sneering reference to, National Socialism, with a refusal to allow those mitigating or distracting arguments to be made.

    I have always condemned, without true understanding, the Nazi attempt to eradicate Jewry from the face of the earth. I have always condemned the slaughter even when mindful of the fact that many of the Jews cut their own throats by ignoring the dire warnings of their imminent destruction.

    But now….now I understand…with greater depth….with greater clarity, why so many Jews walked meekly to their own destruction…

    I will call it “The Disease of Gilad Shalit”

    I now say this without hesitation:

    The Jews are a stupid, stupid people who richly deserve that which they so diligently cultivate: their own destruction.

    A stupid little soldier, Shalit, got himself caught. He spent 5 years idling away in a prison cell as little more than a “Get Out Of Jail Free Card”. Hamas and Hezbollah smiled, knowing full well what Shalit could be used for. Hamas and Hezbollah knew full well the depth of stupidity and cowardice of the Jewish people…..and now so do I….and now so does the world.

    Israel has now set loose amongst its own people the very mad dogs, the very animals who ran amok in years past. Israel has freed the very murderers and terrorists who sought and achieved the destruction of the Jews at every turn…killers who slaughtered the innocent, the children and the women… utterly inexplicable….how utterly nauseating….how bloody ridiculous!!!

    Fine….if the Jews are that unconscionably stupid, that morally and intellectually bankrupt, that cowardly…..then fine….I too resign them to the fate they themselves have rushed to with open arms, deaf ears and blind eyes….let them suffer murder at the hands of those they have turned loose amongst their people…

    Let us hear not one single complaint…not one little peep…let us not hear a whining, whimpering plea for sympathy, understanding and assistance from the international community as those loosed commence the slaughter anew…..let us not hear the crocodile tears as the blood of Jewish men, women and children run rivers at the hands of their Arab handlers……let us not see televised close-ups of quivering lips and tear stained cheeks as widows and orphans lay wreaths of remembrance while background violins tug at heartstrings…….let us not hear the flowery speeches of outrageous hypocrites gracing forums international….just quietly bury your dead and trouble us not with your laughable eulogies….you deserve every death, every murder and every atrocity that you will suffer in the coming weeks and months at the hands of those you have loosed…

    The Jews are a stupid people, a weak people, a blind people, a cowardly people… consider yourselves “Gods Chosen People”….how wretchedly laughable….even God has a limit…and in the face of such horrendous, such outrageous complicity and cowardice, God himself would turn away in contempt, sickened at the sight of this self inflicted slaughter…

    There are those who will dismiss my condemnation of this outrageous cowardice as vulgar intemperance, juvenile invective, or the ramblings of one who “really, really doesn’t understand what we Jews go through” Or perhaps, and predictably, ”the poisonous screed of a vile anti-Semite”.

    To that I say this; With the logic and reasoning of lunatics and buffoons, you have locked and loaded a weapon, you have placed that weapon in the hands of those who seek your complete annihilation….and now you have asked them to place the barrel of that weapon against your collective heads and pull the trigger……is it anti-Semitic, vulgar or intemperate to observe that you richly deserve the gunshot that ends your lives?

    Regards Don Laird

    Edson, Alberta, Canada

    • Don, thanks for the long diatribe, it was boring as hell. More to the point, Shalit didn’t get himself caught because he’s a stupid little soldier. Shalit was captured in a very sophisticated attack that got his commanding officer and another soldier killed. Also, the attack was carried out successfully despite Israel having intelligence about the pending attack and where it was likely to come from. In other words, Shalit ended up a victim of mistakes by the IDF and his commanders in particular. This is a significant part of what made the government responsible for what happened to him and for his release. Was it a stupid trade? Probably. Was it morally necessary. Almost certainly.

      • Dear Middle,

        Nice try….

        Your argument fails miserably.

        Yes, he may have been caught, as you say, through the bungling of senior command. But under no circumstances could that ever be used as an excuse to release over 1000 convicted criminals, murderers and terrorists. Shalit knows it, you know it, I know it, the Israelis’ know it, the Palestinians know it and the entire bloody world knows it.

        As for my condemnation of the Jews….it stands and is roundly supported by the volumes spoken by the loosing of murderers amongst the Jewish citizenry.

        Further, my entire argument is both supported and validated by your inability to argue the main points….all you have done is whimpered and quibbled about the bungling of senior commanders and failed military strategy as the excuse for sheer lunacy.

        A parallel can be drawn here.

        Imagine for a moment if the Iranian government had demanded as payment for the release of Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, the loosing, in San Fransisco, of 1000 prisoners from Pelican Bay Maximum Security in California. Amongst these 1000 released are serial killers, murderers, rapists….the worst of the worst…the answer would have been a resounding no…and if the American people would have caught wind of even the slightest consideration of that exchange, the screams of protest at all levels would have been deafening. Same argument, same brand of logic and reasoning. Same utter bloody failure of the same.

        Or perhaps in exchange for Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer the Iranians demanded enough enriched uranium to build a small thermo-nuclear weapon. Same argument, same brand of logic and reasoning. Same utter bloody failure of the same.

        Or perhaps we can travel back 70 years and imagine the exchange of a single bumbling American soldier for 1000 SS Storm Troopers. Same argument, same brand of logic and reasoning. Same utter bloody failure of the same.

        In your world the stupidity and incompetence of the Captain of the Titanic results in his order to the stewards to burn all the life jackets. Same argument, same brand of logic and reasoning. Same utter bloody failure of the same.

        I can go on and on and on……but the reality is that every single person knows that the consequences of this will be more murder and terrorism by those released…and is that your wish?….that another hundred or two hundred innocent lives in exchange for one….your calculations are the calculations of lunatics and psychopaths.

        In closing…..the next time you attempt to participate in a battle of wits, don’t show up unarmed….its embarrassing….for both of us.

        I’m done here…..

        Regards, Don Laird
        Edson, Alberta, Canada

    • please.
      whatever you might think about isreal, don’t be a bigot and group all the jews along with the isreali government.
      I’m not saying I agree with your views on Isreal, I really don’t know where I stand on that, but that kind of prejudice is another thing entirely.
      “THE Jews” is what I’m sick and tired of being thought of in this weird little equation of : Israel = all jews.
      because being Jewish doesn’t mean being Israeli.
      yes, Israel is a Jewish majority. but Jews exist elsewhere.
      countries can be Christian, Islamic, Buddist, Hindu, ect. majority too…
      But whenever The USA, or Russia , or France ( or whatever) makes a decision, or passes a law – especially if it were “questionable”
      is it ” THE christians” that did it?
      no! In that case, they countries and people are acknowledged by the nationality:
      fairly reasonable , being that the government DID make the decision, not the religion, and that people of other faiths are citizens of that country-
      (as is the same with Israel. countrary to what many seem to believe, Israel is not solely composed of Jews)
      Don’t group people like that.
      but for the record, I’m absolutely disgusted by your inhumanity.
      because it’s not just anti semitism, what you said is terrible.
      do you honestly want that? people to die, shedding “crocodile tears”? we’re all people, humans. but i’m starting to wish you’d show YOUR moral obligations- someone who (hopefully not) would genuinely wish that on people for the actions of a government?
      go punch a pillow or something. obviously you’ve got a lot of rage.
      I’d recommend seeking professional help.

      • Hello Lily,

        Forgive the following but with respect to the entirety of your reply I leave you with this:

        In the future please try a litte less pedestrian incoherence….and then may I refer you to one of my closing paragraphs….which you, completely lacking in argument of any substance…ran headlong into….nice work Lily.

        “There are those who will dismiss my condemnation of this outrageous cowardice as vulgar intemperance, juvenile invective, or the ramblings of one who “really, really doesn’t understand what we Jews go through” Or perhaps, and predictably, ”the poisonous screed of a vile anti-Semite”.”

        Merry Christmas to you and yours Lily,

        Regards, Don Laird
        Edson, Alberta

  • Don,
    I have to say that many Jews and many in Israel have expressed sentiments similar to yours. What Israel had to do was contemplate the need to prevent future deaths vs. the desire to prevent one immediate death. However, what you see as weakness or collaboration or worse, others see as a religious imperative. Judaism always values current life over potential life. For instance in the case of a difficult pregnancy where the doctors are faced with the choice of saving the mother or saving the child, Judaism dictates that you save the mother. The actual life takes precedence over potential life. Furthermore, the security situation in Israel today is much more different than it was as little as 6 years ago. Gaza is under lockdown, The West Bank is fenced in and the number of Palestinian collaborators is as high as it has ever been. The 1000 released terrorists will not be able to spill Jewish blood as easily as they have before. In the last 6 years Israel has only suffered a handful of terrorist attacks, and many attempts have been thwarted at the source. Finally, Shalit’s release prevented the serious blow to IDF and national morale that would have been represented by his indefinite incarceration or worse, his death. You think we’re stupid? That’s fine. You’re entitled to your opinion. We’ll stick with the values and morals that have served us well to date.