For 1935 days, Noam and Aviva Shalit have lived in a state of uncertainty, fighting for their son who languished in Hamas captivity.
For 1935 days, the government of the State of Israel worked to negotiate for the release of Gilad Shalit, who was captured by Hamas in a cross-border raid and held hostage in the Gaza Strip.
For 1935 days, members of the global community despaired as Gilad Shalitâ€™s human rights were denied, in direct violation of international law.
For 1935 days, the worldwide Jewish community knew that it was not complete, and kept the name Gilad Shalit in the hearts and minds of people around the world, fighting for the young man whose voice has not been heard for over five years.
On October 11, 2011, it looks like these efforts paid off.
Â It has been announced that the government of Israel and Hamas have reached an agreement regarding Gilad Shalit, and that after years of negotiations that seemed endless, Gilad is coming home. This moment is a victory for his family, for Israel, and for all of the individuals around the world who worked to keep Giladâ€™s fate a critical issue, and who maintained awareness about his plight. Thousands of people, Jews and non-Jews, bought Gilad Shalit dog tags, passed â€œFree Giladâ€ billboards, and participated in â€œTweet4Shalitâ€ campaigns. These efforts have paid off, as it is thanks to these seemingly small contributions that Gilad Shalitâ€™s fate has remained a global issue, and one of the utmost importance.
Over the past five years, cities and countries around the world have bestowed honorary citizenship upon Gilad, emphasizing that his plight is not just a Jewish issue or an Israeli problem, but one of importance to people around the world who stand for justice and human rights. Giladâ€™s parents have traveled the world campaigning for their son, and the countless individuals that their story has touched have a share in the joy of learning that Gilad is finally coming home.
There are those who question the price of freeing Gilad. They take issue with the release of over 1000 Palestinians from Israeli jails, including Marwan Barghouti, an infamous terror leader responsible for the deaths of multiple Israeli civilians. They question the wisdom of agreeing to negotiate with Hamas, a terrorist group committed to Israelâ€™s destruction. All of these concerns are valid, and the points made are necessary questions to consider. But today, they are not the issue. Today, the important thing is that Israel is making good on its promise to bring a son, a brother, a man, home.
In his address to the Cabinet, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, â€œThe Nation of Israel is a unique people. We are all mutually responsible for each other, as our Sages said: â€œHe who saves one soul, it is as though he has saved an entire world.â€ These words drive home the point that for 1935 days, the nation of Israel and the people of Israel have been incomplete. Only once the mission of bringing Gilad home is completed will the work be completed, and only then will the Shalit family, and the family of Israel, be whole once again.