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gilad schalit birthday cake.(Photo by: Channel 1)
Schalit's first letter made public
Tovah Lazaroff
In August 2006 letter, Schalit, now 23, tells parents he hopes to celebrate 21st birthday at home.
The complete text of the first letter that kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit wrote to his family three years ago was released to the media on Tuesday night by the Campaign to Free Gilad. The move comes in the midst of persistent media reports that progress has been made in the negotiations to free Schalit from his Hamas captors in Gaza. But the decision to release the letter was not made by the campaign. Both the campaign and Gilad's father, Noam, said they had nothing to do with the letter's sudden appearance on a number of Web sites, including that of Ynet. Noam told The Jerusalem Post he had sent a copy of the letter to Yediot Aharonot so that they could include it in a book they are writing about his son. The campaign formally released a copy only after the letter had circulated on the Web. The family received the letter in September 2006, just a few months after Gilad was captured on June 25 of that year. It was their first sign of life from their son. In the letter, Gilad wrote, "Dear mother, father, siblings and friends. I send you greetings. My health is deteriorating from day to day. It is especially hard for me emotionally and I have been very depressed. I am waiting for this intolerable nightmare in which I find myself to end, so that I can be freed from this closed and lonely prison, particularly given that my 20th birthday has passed. I had hoped we would celebrate it together. "I am appealing to the government, particularly Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz, to do everything in their power to release me as quickly as possible. It gets harder for me with every day that passes. So they should meet the demands of the mujahadeen who kidnapped me out of my tank. "I hope you will do everything so that I can celebrate Rosh Hashana and Succot at home." He signed his name and added, "a prisoner in the hands of the mujahadeen." Since the arrival of this letter, Gilad's family received a tape recording from him in June 2007, a second letter in February 2008 and a third one in June of that year. Since that time they have not heard from their son. According to Channel 10, the letter, like other letters previously made public, was apparently dictated to Gilad by his captors.
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