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Schalit reunites with parents, PM welcomes him to Israel
By JPOST.COM STAFF, YAAKOV KATZ AND HERB KEINON
18/10/2011
Netanyahu to freshly-released IDF soldier: "Welcome to Israel, it's good that you're home"; Schalit finishes undergoing medical examinations at Tel Nof IAF base, set to fly home to Mitzpe Hila.
 
Gilad Schalit was welcomed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu as he landed at Tel Nof Air Force base in Rehovot on Tuesday, before being reunited with his family after five years in Hamas captivity.

As Schalit stepped of the helicopter that brought him to the base, the prime minister said to him: "Welcome to Israel, it's good that you're home."

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Before Schalit met with his parents, Netanyahu told them: "I brought you back your child."

IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz welcomed Schalit to Israel, calling him a hero.

When the helicopter carrying Schalit landed, Gantz boarded it, Schalit saluted and then Gantz saluted back. "I am proud of you and the way you survived a difficult period," Gantz told Schalit.

After meeting with his family - his mother, father, grandfather, brother and sister - Schalit underwent further medical examinations at the IAF base. He was scheduled to board an IAF helicopter and fly home to Mitzpe Hila at approximately 4 p.m.

The soldier was declared healthy following an initial IDF medical examination at an IDF 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.

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.

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 Mitzpe Hila.

As part of a carefully orchestrated prisoner swap, Israel released 477 Palestinian prisoners on Tuesday morning, with a further 550 set for release in two months' time.

Click for full JPost coverage on Gilad Schalit
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