Gilad Schalit landed at the Tel Nof Air Force Base in central Israel early Tuesday afternoon, where he was scheduled to meet his family after more than five years in Hamas captivity.
Schalit was also scheduled to meet briefly with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and IDF chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz at Tel Nof.
Earlier on Tuesday, the IDF confirmed that Schalit was on Israeli soil, as Egyptian TV released video footage of the solider in Egypt.
The IDF previously confirmed that Schalit had been officially released and identified and would pass through the Kerem Shalom crossing.
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The soldier was declared healthy following an initial IDF medical examination at a base in the South.
The IDF said that even though Schalit was in reasonably
good health, there were a few issues that caused concern including his
pale skin and the fact that he was limping.
The IDF doctors
noted that he was very pale which indicates that he was not exposed to
sunlight during his captivity. They also noted that he was much skinnier
than when he was captured which suggests that he was malnourished. The
IDF medical team suspected that the limp was from an injury he had when he was captured in 2006.
Noam and Aviv Schalit, Gilad's parents, had a brief and emotional telephone conversation with him while he was at the southern base.
Egyptian military officials received Schalit from Hamas control on the
Gaza side of the Rafah crossing and updated the IDF command post at the
Kerem Shalom crossing of the transaction earlier on Tuesday morning.
Upon passing into Israel, Schalit was guarded by soldiers of the Israel
Air Force's 669 unit, who will accompany him until he is home safe in
As part of a carefully orchestrated prisoner swap, Israel released 477
Palestinian prisoners during the day, with a further 550 set for release
at a later date.
Overnight Monday, the IDF finalized preparations for the swap and moved
all of the Palestinian prisoners slated for release to various points
throughout the country from where they will be transferred to Egypt, the
Gaza Strip, the West Bank and inside the country.
On Monday, OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Tal Russo declared Israel’s
border crossings with Egypt and Gaza closed military zones ahead of the