‘My son needs time to recover,’ says Noam Schalit

Gilad Schalit needs his time to transition back to normal life, his father says; President Peres is expected to visit this week.

Noam Schalit speaks with reporters in Mitzpe Hila 311 (photo credit: Channel 10)
Noam Schalit speaks with reporters in Mitzpe Hila 311
(photo credit: Channel 10)
Noam Schalit said on Thursday night that his son, Gilad, felt good and had a good appetite, and had even played ping pong and met with friends over the Simhat Torah holiday.
He spoke with reporters outside his Mitzpe Hila home, just two days after his son was released from over five years of captivity in Gaza.
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Over the holiday, visitors streamed up to the small hilltop community in the Upper Galilee, but most were unable to see Gilad, who has remained in seclusion with his family and close friends.
He was spotted just a few times, going for a walk and riding a bicycle.
Noam said that his son was not ready to interact with a large number of people, or to be interviewed.
“He [Gilad] needs time to recover after a long period – nearly 2,000 days in solitary confinement without sunlight. He suffers from lack of sunlight. I hope he will recover quickly,” said Noam.
“I understand that that there is a great desire to photograph him, but you have to be patient,” Noam told the reporters. “He cannot meet such a large number of people at once.”
An army medical team was treating him, Noam said. He did not elaborate about his son’s experience at the hands of Hamas. At first, conditions were very difficult, but things eventually improved, Noam said.
Gilad knew “most of what was happening. He had a radio and could listen to [Israel Radio’s] Reshet Bet, Army Radio and South Radio,” Noam said.
During Operation Cast Lead in 2008, Gilad understood what was occurring and could hear the sounds of war around him, Noam said.
“I imagine that it was not a picnic to be in a building as planes flew overhead and bombed everything that moved,” he said.
With respect to the interview Gilad gave to Egyptian television upon his release, Noam said, Gilad did not have a choice in the matter.
The interview “was unnecessary and improper,” he said.
Later in the evening, residents, visitors and activists in Mitzpe Hila celebrated the end of the Simhat Torah holiday by singing and dancing.
Among those who joined them were Gilad’s brother, Yoel.
President Shimon Peres is expected to visit Mitzpe Hila next week and meet with the Schalit family.
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