October 18th, 2011
07:25 AM ET

Hamas frees Israel's Gilad Shalit in prisoner swap

[Updated at 7:25 a.m. ET] The mission to bring home captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit has been accomplished, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Tuesday, saying Israel was united in joy at his release and in pain for the price that Israel had to pay for it.

[Updated at 7:17 a.m. ET] Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was reunited with his family after more than five years in Hamas captivity, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office announced Tuesday.

Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit is greeted by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

[Updated at 7:15 a.m. ET] Gilad Shalit walked into Israel a free man after more than five years in Hamas captivity on Tuesday, the Israel Defense Forces said.

Israeli television showed him in the company of IDF soldiers minutes after the announcement, sparking joy in Israel.

He is in good health and is now en route to see his family and top Israeli leaders, the military announced.

Shalit learned about a week ago that he was going to be released, though he "felt it for the last month," he told Egyptian television after his release.

"I missed my family. I missed going out and meeting people," he said in the emotional interview, where he appeared pale, tired, tense, and sometimes out of breath, although he was seated in a chair.

Israel is releasing more than 1,000 prisoners in exchange for Shalit.

"I hope this deal will move the peace process forward," he told Shahira Amin of Egyptian TV, saying he would be glad if the remaining Palestinian prisoners are released "as long as they do not go back to fighting Israel."

The interview came shortly after Egyptian television showed a short clip of Shalit walking unaided with an escort of about half a dozen people. He looked thin and dazed, wearing a dark baseball cap and collared shirt.

Shalit came via Egypt because it acted as a mediator between Israel and Hamas, which do not have relations.

Shalit's father told Israeli television earlier it was the happiest day of his life.

Israel freed 477 Palestinian inmates from Israeli jails shortly before Shalit was released, the first group of a batch of more than 1,000 Palestinians being swapped for Shalit's freedom.

soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Ed Peterson

    numerology for Gilad Shalit:


    October 18, 2011 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
  2. fernace

    Israel released 1000 Palestinian prisoners to get this 1 guy back? Does he lay golden eggs, or what? Or perhaps the prisoners were mainly detainees!? Anyway, if this can promote peace between these warring nations, whatever works, you know!!

    October 18, 2011 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
    • IH8IRAN

      israel released this 1 guy not because he "lays golden eggs" but because we have a high value for human life... military service is mandatory in israel for all citizens reaching the age of 18 and its our duty to bring them safely back home if they ever fall in captivity... these terrorists, whom lots have planned and executed terrorists attacks on civilians, were unfortunately released and greeted by the palestinians as national heroes (they raise their children to look up to famous terrorists and name their streets after them) because they are inhumane animals who live to hate,,, we hugged this brave soldier, and took him in with all the love that a nation can give... for years he was our national symbol for why we must fight terrorism and defend this country and for years we waited for his return.... this one soldier, became a memeber if each israeli family, for israel is one big family

      October 18, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  3. David


    October 18, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • khalid3097

      What a fool you and your friend IH8IRAN are. Both two people on the wrong side. First off. Come into OUR country, take our land, kill our people. This makes US terrorists? You and all your people are all the same. If you want peace so bad, you aren't gonna reach it by angering millions, killing thousands, and taking land that was never yours. I hope you either see the light of how screwed up you are someday, or take your disgusting ways somewhere else and rot in hell. Either way, good day to you.

      October 23, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  4. asaf

    The "interview" with Gilad Shalit was a disgrace to humanity and journalism. Amin's claim that she didn't know he was forced to do it is a joke considering the covered-faces armed terrorists that brought him to her. i had respect for Egyptian and Arab intellectuals, but this "interview" shows that i was dead wrong. if she is considered a journalist with integrity, i fear to think of the those without it.

    October 20, 2011 at 3:12 am | Report abuse |