Gilad Shalit, who was freed in October after five and a half years in Hamas captivity, thanked on Saturday the many activists who had worked to secure his release.
The Shalit family held a special thank you dinner for the activists in Kibbutz Shefayim in central Israel on Saturday evening. Gilad himself did not attend the dinner, as he is still unable to face large crowds, but his thank you was conveyed in a recorded video message that was played at the start of the evening.
“I know without a doubt that your continued struggle and your support for my family were one of the decisive factors that contributed to the decision to release me,” Gilad said in the video. “I am grateful to all of you and to each and every one of you individually. I will continue to be grateful to you for the rest of my life.”
Noam Shalit, Gilad’s father, thanked the activists during the dinner and told them that “we have reached the end of this long journey. Gilad still has a long way to go but you, dear activists, can say that it is over and done with.”
He added, “Gilad does not yet know about all the intense activity that was done for him, about the good people who worked tirelessly for him for many years. Obviously, it’s hard for him to contain such a large amount of information but in time he will be exposed to the all the things that were done and to all the people who accompanied us faithfully and steadfastly to the end of this struggle.”
Israel agreed to release 1,026 terrorists in exchange for Shalit. 477 were released in the first stage of the deal in October, and Hamas said on Saturday the second stage of the deal will be implemented on December 18.
Meanwhile, two of the terrorists that have been released have already been re-arrested. One of them was detained on Thursday, according to a Palestinian Authority minister.
The PA condemned the arrest, saying it was a clear violation of the agreement between Israel and Hamas in the Shalit deal, the first stage of which was carried out in October. The second part is to be carried out within weeks.
Another terrorist who was freed in the deal was later recaptured after engaging in terror activity against Israel. He was hospitalized at the Hadassah Hospital under constant police and IDF guard, family members of people who were forced to share a room with the terrorist told Arutz Sheva.