Peres emotionally moved by meeting with Gilad Schalit

President praises Gilad's strength of character, ability to withstand all he endured; "he passed a test which many others would have failed."

President Shimon Peres with Gilad Schalit 311 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS/Ziv Binunsky/Handout)
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.
“I may be the oldest person here, but I’m the most excited.”
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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 captivity.
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 him.
“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 native son.”
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 Noam.
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.
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