Some 1,000 people gathered at French Ambassador Christophe Bigot’s residence in Jaffa Thursday for the traditional Bastille Day soiree, including President Shimon Peres and former captive IDF soldier Gilad Schalit.

Schalit was accompanied by his father, Noam Schalit, and was greeted in person by Bigot.

“I’d like to thank Gilad and his father, Noam, for coming,” said Bigot in his speech.

The French ambassador said his country lent Schalit its full support during the five years he was held prisoner by Hamas in Gaza. On the matter of Iran, Bigot said Israel could count on French President François Hollande in the same way it relied on former president Nicolas Sarkozy. A new round of sanctions were aimed at pressuring Tehran to end its rogue nuclear program, he added.

Peres, who addressed the crowd after Bigot, thanked the ambassador – who will probably end his tenure this year – for his service to the country and his support of the Israeli people. He said the social protest movement in Tel Aviv was an echo of the French revolution. Two issues are of paramount importance to Israel these days: the Iranian nuclear program and the need for peace with the Palestinians, the president said.

Schalit, who did not speak publicly, patiently posed for pictures with well-wishers and shook hands with dignitaries in the crowd.

While Bastille Day is on July 14, the event was pushed up to July 12 due to the Sabbath.

The evening ended with a fireworks display and the singing of French national anthem “La Marseillaise” and Israeli national anthem “Hatikva.”

Please LIKE our Facebook page - it makes us stronger