President Shimon Peres with Gilad Schalit 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ziv Binunsky/Handout)
“You have no idea how emotionally moving it is for me to meet you here in your
home, alive and well,” President Shimon Peres told Gilad Schalit on Monday when
the president visited the released soldier at home in Mitzpe Hila.
be the oldest person here, but I’m the most excited.”
‘My son needs time to recover,’ says Noam Schalit
An open letter from the Egyptian journalist who interviewed Schalit
Peres made the trip
from Jerusalem to tell Schalit what joy his homecoming had brought to the nation
and to himself, personally.
“The whole country worried about you and was
concerned about what was happening to you alone in the dark. How you managed to
cope with the isolation, and the loneliness,” said Peres, seemingly unaware that
Schalit had been listening to Israeli radio stations while in
Peres marveled at the young man’s strength of character and
his ability to withstand all that he had endured. He had passed a test that many
others would have failed, Peres said.
Schalit’s return was a source of
exceptional personal and national delight, because the whole nation had come
together in an outpouring of love and moral values.
“We could all breathe
a sigh of relief when you emerged from the helicopter,” Peres said. Conscious of
the psychological strain Schalit had been under during his imprisonment, Peres
said he had come to express the pride of the nation in Schalit’s amazing
stoicism under harsh conditions.
Peres was convinced that after surviving
such a traumatic experience Schalit has a very bright future ahead of
“You can attain anything to which you aspire.”
Peres also had
warm words of praise for the soldier’s parents, Aviva and Noam Schalit, telling
them how much he admired and respected the campaign they had conducted to secure
their son’s freedom. The challenges they had confronted and overcome had not
escaped his attention.
“I’m very pleased that you were so stubborn, and
that neither you nor your wonderful team of volunteers gave up for even a
moment. It was the spontaneous awakening of a people who wanted to bring home a
Schalit thanked Peres for the all the support he had given
to his family, while Noam expressed appreciation for all that Peres had done for
them during the years of the campaign.
“We know very well that you were
involved behind the scenes, and we needed all the help we could get,” said
Aviva thanked Peres for coming to Mitzpe Hila and reiterated the
family’s sincere thanks to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for taking the
courageous decision to bring Schalit home and proving that mutual responsibility
is more than a matter of lip service.
Noam also said how much the family
appreciated the fact that Peres, who could have invited the Schalits to come to
Jerusalem to meet with him, had instead taken the trouble to come to them.