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Noam Shalit: Nightmare Not Over Until Gilad Home

Father of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, who is expected to be traded for 1,027 terrorists this week, says nothing is settled yet.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 10/16/2011, 9:16 AM

Noam Shalit
Noam Shalit
Flash 90

Noam Shalit, father of captive soldier Gilad Shalit, says he has had no word from the government on what is happening with his son and will not rejoice until his son is on the steps of their home, Israel Radio reported.

"I hope it will go smoothly," Noam Shalit told reporters from the Hebrew-media who were camped outside his house. "The nightmare isn't over until Gilad is on our doorstep."

"We do not know what's going to be and are waiting intently and with concern," he added, saying the family had not been given clear information by security officials on what exactly is happening with their son.

"I hope it will go well. This deal came right when it seemed like Gilad would never return home," Shalit said, adding, "This is why we hung an Israeli flag over the house. But it does not mean it's over".

When asked if he wanted to deliver senior Hamas member Khaled Mashaal a message, Shalit said: "I do not want to say anything until the issue is finally settled.”

During the Sabbath, hundreds of well-wishers came to Mitzpe Hila, where the Shalit home has became a pilgrimage site for supporters over the past five-plus years. One resident told reporters the visitors created the only traffic jam in the community's history and described the encampment of reporters at the Shalit home as being a “siege.”

Meanwhile, the Israeli government continued making preparations of its own to implement its deal with Hamas for Gilad Shalit's freedom. Shalit, who was kidnapped by Hamas over five years ago will be exchanged for 1,027 security prisoners, of whom some 450 were convicted of terror charges.

Egyptian officials reported Friday that Hamas had moved Shalit to their territory ahead of the exchange. But a last minute realization that they had miscalculated the number of female terrorists held in Israeli jails led Hamas officials to make more demands.

Israeli officials have no publicly commented on the demands - but observers note intense international pressure on both parties for the deal to go through will likely keep Hamas' new demands from scuttling the deal.

Shortly after Midnight on Saturday the Israel Prison Service moved the first 477 terrorists to be traded for Shalit to a separate facility ahead of the exchange and released a full list of names of the 1,027 terrorists to be traded to the public. No fewer than 28 of the terrorists have Jewish blood on their hands. 

There will be a 48-hour window for appeals against their release to be filed, but it is unlikely Israel's High Court will choose to interfere.