Netanyahu: I'm happy Gilad Schalit is returning to routine

Gilad seen on walk with mother outside family home in Mitzpe Hila; IDF and Defense Ministry medical professionals scheduled to visit Schalit.

October 19, 2011 16:26
3 minute read.
Gilad Schalit smiles outside his Mitzpe Hila home

Gilad Schalit smiles outside his Mitzpe Hila home 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/Nir Elias)


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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said he's "happy to see Gilad Schalit begining to return to [his] routine," speaking with Colombian Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin on Wednesday.

Schalit, who was released from Hamas captivity the day before, began his recovery and return to normal life on Wednesday morning after having slept in his bed in Mitzpe Hila for the first time in more than five years.

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Noam Schalit said that his son Gilad was feeling well, and that he had slept through the night, Israel Radio reported Wednesday, adding that the family was working on getting back to normal.

At the same time, Schalit was seen going for a walk outside his home with his mother, Aviva. He didn't speak to reporters.

Schalit spent his first night at home with his family following his return from captivity in Gaza on Tuesday, in an exchange which saw Israel release 477 of a total 1,027 Palestinian prisoners that will eventually be granted their freedom as part of a deal signed with Hamas.

French Ambassador to Israel Christophe Bigot visited Schalit and his family on Tuesday night, delivering the freed captive a message from French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Sarkozy told the dual Israeli-French citizen that he was "overjoyed" to hear the news of his release.

IDF and Defense Ministry medical professionals were scheduled to visit Schalit throughout the day on Wednesday and in the coming days to help aid in his recovery.

Police decided to close off the street the Schalits reside on in Mitzpe Hila during the coming week in order to provide the family privacy during Gilad's recovery. Dozens of police officers were deployed in the area and had made preparations to evacuate Schalit to the hospital in nearby Nahariya or to a hospital in central Israel to receive more specialized treatment if the need were to arise.

Overnight Tuesday, an IDF doctor as well as an expert in caring for soldiers suffering from trauma were already deployed near the Schalit home in case of emergency, Channel 10 reported.

Click for full JPost coverage on Gilad Schalit

While Schalit appeared skinny and pale, according to IDF estimates, he received regular amounts of food while in Hamas captivity. His pale and skinny appearance is understood to be the result of the mental pressure he had been under during the five years and four months of his imprisonment.

In the coming weeks, military intelligence will begin meeting with Schalit to debrief him on his experiences and to try to glean information that could be useful for Israel. One question that will likely come up is whether Schalit was aware of Ahmed Jabari’s involvement in his captivity. Jabari appeared on Egyptian TV on Tuesday accompanying Schalit to the Rafah Crossing.

In addition, Israel will want to learn about his routine, his captors and where he was kept. Defense officials said the debriefing would only begin after medical authorities gave the green light.

Yaakov Katz contributed to this report.

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