Schalit family arrives at Tel Nof to greet Gilad

Noam: "We're excited, trying to get through these moments, stay calm"; family reaches IAF base via helicopter where they'll greet their son.

By JPOST.COM STAFF,
October 18, 2011 07:51
2 minute read.
Schalits leave Mitzpe Hila

Schalits leave Mitzpe Hila 311 (r). (photo credit: REUTERS/ Nir Elias)

 
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Gilad Schalit's immediate family arrived at Tel Nof IAF base on Tuesday morning where they were expected to greet the captive soldier after he is released in a carefully orchestrated prisoner exchange.

On Tuesday morning, Egyptian TV broadcast video footage of the soldier in Egypt, and minutes later the IDF confirmed that David Meidan was accompanying him to Israel.

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Gilad's parents Noam and Aviva, along with his brother Yoel and Yoel's girlfriend Ya'ara, left their home in Mitzpe Hila earlier on Tuesday morning. They made their way via helicopter to the IAF base near Rehovot.

"We are excited, trying to get through these moments and stay calm," Noam Schalit said in an interview with Channel 10. He added that he had not received any information about Gilad's whereabouts.

Gilad's grandfather Zvi and his sister Hadas arrived at Tel Nof from Kiryat Ata prior to his parents.

Upon passing into Israel, Schalit will be guarded by soldiers of the Israel Air Force's 669 unit, who will accompany him until he is home safe in Mitzpe Hila.

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After being released, Gilad Schalit is expected to meet briefly with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz at the base and then he will immediately be taken to meet with his parents, grandfather, brother and sister.

The government is planning a simple ceremony for the kidnapped soldier’s expected return, over concern about not overwhelming him, a government official said.

One government official, who took part in a meeting Sunday planning the logistics for the day of Schalit’s anticipated return, said the government was keenly aware that Tuesday will be anything but a day of celebration for many of the families of victims killed by terrorists to be released in the 1,127:1 swap.

In planning how Schalit will be greeted, the official said the government was guided by the need to balance happiness for the Schalit family, with a need to show understanding and compassion for the pain that will be felt by thousands of people whose loved ones were killed in attacks perpetrated by the prisoners to be released that day.

Few details of the ceremony have been released, with one official saying this is partly because it will be necessary to see what kind of medical condition Schalit is in before determining the type of ceremony to hold.

Herb Keinon contributed to this report

Click for full JPost coverage on Gilad Schalit

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