After over three years in which IDF St.-Sgt. Gilad Schalit has been held in Hamas captivity in the Gaza Strip, Israel breathed a sigh of relief on Friday afternoon after video footage of the captive soldier was released to the media and aired on Israeli television channels.What can be done now? The mothers hopes this'll bring about his release, but the father rightfully worries that this could still take years. Sadly, it's not the end of the problem.
The two-minute long clip shows Schalit addressing Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his parents Noam and Aviva, telling them he is being treated well by the Hamas and is in good health, but yearning for the day on which he will see his family again. Schalit is seen clean shaven with a fresh haircut, wearing dark green clothes.
The video was received in return for the release of 20 Palestinian female prisoners. Israel released 19 of them on Friday morning, 18 to the West Bank and one to Gaza. The 20th prisoner will be released Sunday, after it turned out that a prisoner released Wednesday was finishing her sentence anyway and would therefore be released regardless of the deal.
Following is the full transcript of Schalit's video message:
"Hello, I am Gilad, son of Noam and Aviva Schalit, brother of Hadas and Yoel, who lives in Mitzpe Hila. My ID number is 300097029.
"As you see I am holding in my hands the Palestine newspaper of September 14, 2009, published in Gaza. I am reading the paper in order to find information regarding myself, hoping to find some information from which I would learn of my release and upcoming return home. I have been hoping and waiting for the day of my release for a long time. I hope the current government under Binyamin Netanyahu will not waste the chance to finalize a deal, and I will therefore be able to finally have my dream come true and be released.
"I wish to send regards to my family and say to them that I love and miss them and yearn for the day in which I will see them again.
"Dad, Yoel and Hadas, do you remember the day when you visited my base on the Golan Heights on December 31st, 2005, that if I am not mistaken was called Revaya B. We walked around the base and you took photos of me on the Merkava tank and on one of the old tanks at the entrance to the base. We then went to a restaurant in one of the Druse villages and on the way we took photos on the side of the road with the snow-capped Mount Hermon in the background.
"I wish to say to you that I feel good, health-wise, and the Mujahadeen of the Izzadien al-Qassam Brigades are treating me very well. Thank you and goodbye."
In the footage, Schalit addresses the camera directly, and at one point walks up to the camera and then returns to his chair. He also appears relaxed, not terrified. Channel 10 TV commentators said Jerusalem had demanded that Schalit get up and take a few steps to prove he was able-bodied. The details about his family's visit to his military base, they said, were meant to prove the man reading the text was not an impostor.
By 12:30pm, Netanyahu's appointee on the Schalit case, Hagai Hadas, reached the Prime Minister's official residence in Jerusalem with the footage. Hadas and IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi had already reviewed the footage and approved the release of the prisoners, indicating that the video fulfilled Israel's demands, namely that the video was at least a minute long, recent and showed Schalit talking.
OC Manpower Division Maj.-Gen. Avi Zamir arrived by helicopter with a copy of the video at the Schalit residence in Mitzpe Hila, where he was scheduled to view the video with the family.
Noam Schalit said before viewing the tape that the family eagerly awaits it.
Gilad Schalit has been held in captivity in the Gaza Strip for 1,196 days.
Saturday, October 03, 2009
GILAD SHALIT IS ALIVE
After 3 years of the Hamas shrouding things in secrecy and not revealing any clear signs, a video tape they've presented shows that P.O.W Gilad Shalit is alive:
Posted by Avi Green at 4:05 PM