The view from my veranda

Letter from Jerusalem – Gilad Schalit is home


18th October 2011

Simchat Torah…………… Gilad is home.

Dearest Friends

This has been a week of joy, anger, delight and compassion. We are a schizophrenic country at best – we smile during times of terror and we stand tall when the world tries to make us bow down………… today our schizophrenia reached its height. As a country we are thrilled to see this frail young man return to the bosom of his country and his family; we are angry at the murderers who are set free; we find the price of Gilads release too heavy to imagine yet I, like so many Israelis, hung our flags proudly at our windows as Noam Schalit requested.

Poli Mordechai, the IDF Spokesman, was the officer responsible for the search and information on Gilad Schalit for the last 5 years ws the man who announced Gilads return home today. Poli knows what it is to lose friends and is an exceptionally humane man. Gilad was checked by doctors and psychologists, changed into IDF uniform and smiled again. GILAD SCHALIT, SERGEANT FIRST CLASS, LEFT ISRAEL AS A SOLDIER AND RETURNED AS ONE.

The most emotional moment was when Gilad Schalit, IDF soldier saluted the Prime Minister who returned his salute with tears. “I love you Gilad” as he hugged him, Defence Minister Barak shook Gilads hand a little too firmly for the frail boy and Chief of Staff Gantz saluted his soldier, hugged him and walked him gently to the room where he met with his parents, Aviva and Noam after more than five years of solitude and despair.

Noam and Aviva Schalit fought a phenomenal fight, their determination to bring their son home has taken them, Noam especially, on a long and heart-wrenching ride. Noam never ever gave up, used his democratic right to fight for his son and travelled the world, ready to talk to the enemy if it brought Gilad home.

I am aware of and sympathise with the distress and dismay of the families of victims of terror and survivors of terror to see those who killed and maimed their loved ones go free – indeed as you read here in my letters I was not for this deal at all; however, I believe that Benjamin Netanyahu got the best deal possible, I believe that we had to bring Gilad home.

Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke beautifully of his determination to bring Gilad home and Chief of Staff Benny Gatz said On June 24th, 2006, Team 2, from the 188th armored brigade in the “Barak” division of the Infantry Corps left for operational activity along the Gaza border, near Kerem Shalom. During the course of their mission, on the morning of June 25th, the tank’s crew came under attack by terrorists. During this attack the tank’s commander, Lieutenant Hanan Barak and Staff Sergeant Pabel Slozker, may they rest in peace, were killed. Staff sergeant Roei Amitai was injured and Staff Sergeant Gilad Shalit was abducted. Today, upon the return of Gilad Shalit to his country, his nation and his family, their mission is completed.

The helicopter just landed in Mitzpeh Hila – Gilad finally and really came home – the streets of this tiny village filled with Israeli flags and joyous people.

I wish Gilad and the Schalit family Chag Sameach, Shana Tova and time to repair the abyss of experience that they must cross to come back together as a family. Chicken soup and hugs may just do the trick for now.

Simchat Torah – this year we have good reason to dance and be jubilant and may Bereshit herald a new beginning. We already did our time in the desert, time to recognise that we came home……….. just like Gilad.

Chag Sameach, Moadim le Simcha