Gilad Shalit has spoken with his family for the first time since he was kidnapped at the same spot 1,941 days ago and has been flown by helicopter to the Kerem Shalom crossing, the first time he has been in Israeli territory since he was captured.
Israel officials dressed him in an IDF uniform after he was transferred to the Egyptian side of Rafiah.
He is being examined by Israeli medics and, if all goes well, will fly to the Tel Nof base near Tel Aviv later Tuesday morning, where his family is waiting for him.
The Shalit family has had no contact with their son since Hamas, Army of Islam and Popular resistance Committees terrorists staged a deadly raid on an IDF checkpoint, killed two troops and took Shalit into captivity in 2006.
He is believed to be in good physical health, but his psychological condition remains a question mark.
Hamas refused to honor the Geneva Convention, which requires communication between captives and their families and provides for Red Cross visits.
The Cabinet approval of releasing 1,027 terrorists and security prisoners, dozens of them sentenced for life for murdering Israelis, tore the country apart amid a raging debate. More than 140 Israelis have been murdered by terrorists freed in previous deals.
The release of terrorists ”with blood on their hands” has been a bitter and gut-wrenching experience for hundreds of terror victims and relatives of those who were murdered.
Arguments that Shalit must be freed at all cost in order to end his long ordeal won the day. Security officials have been split over whether the country faces further danger by the deal or whether the military and intelligence establishment can deal with the threat of terrorists returning to murder Israelis and encouraging terror.
Israeli media have helped wage a campaign to free Shalit, and all polls show that a large majority of Israelis support the deal but are evenly split over fears of future attacks by the freed terrorists.