Yoel Marshak, head of the kibbutz movement and one of the prominent activists who worked for the release of Gilad Shalit when he was held captive by Hamas, met on Wednesday, for the first time, the soldier he helped free. The two met in Marshak’s office in Tel Aviv.
“I was sitting down with my colleagues for a meeting as we do every Wednesday, when suddenly there was a knock on the door,” Marshak told Arutz Sheva. “Seconds later, I see Gilad Shalit, for whose release I worked, in front of me for the first time. It was tremendously exciting. There are no words.”
Marshak said that Noam Shalit, who accompanied his son during the meeting, introduced his son to Marshak and told him, “Gilad, this is one of the people who worked day and night to secure your release.” Gilad then told Marshak that he would hear him speaking on the radio about his release while he was in captivity.
Last year, Marshak went to Gaza with an Arab delegation and met with Hamas leaders. During the meeting he asked them to release Shalit. He has long been active on the political left, and has previously pressured the Israel Prisons Service to allow Hamas prisoners to receive presents from Gaza and has offered to host foreign children staying illegally in Israel. He has been accused by residents of Samaria of involvement in an attempt to frame Samaria Jews for damage to water supply to an Arab village.
However, he has taken rare steps to reach out to traditionally Zionist Israelis as well, by assisting Gaza farmers during the Disengagement, and by bringing together youths from Samaria and kibbutzim.
Marshak told Arutz Sheva that now that Shalit is home, he must continue to work towards the release of other prisoners.
“One of the main tasks now is to bring Jonathan Pollard home,” he said.