Grapel’s parents will ‘be able to finally sleep again’

Released student’s sister tells ‘Post’ Ilan is strong and his time in the IDF prepared him for anything.

Grapel hugs mother at airport 311 (photo credit: Avi Ohion/ GPO)
Grapel hugs mother at airport 311
(photo credit: Avi Ohion/ GPO)
NEW YORK – On Thursday, Michal Grapel was at her job in New York, but it was a far cry from an ordinary work day.
“I’m getting tons of Facebook messages, people are texting me,” Grapel said, a smile evident in her voice.
RELATED:Netanyahu meets Grapel: "It's good that you're home"
“I’m trying to work and also manage this influx of people trying to contact me.”
When she spoke to The Jerusalem Post, Grapel was waiting for news from her parents about her younger brother Ilan, who was released from an Egyptian prison.
“Between Facebook and the Internet and the way news spreads – a split second, and half the people in your world know what’s going on before you,” Michal Grapel joked. “I just now saw pictures online, that he’s in Israel with my mother – it’s still kind of surreal.
It’ll resonate a little more once he’s actually back in New York.”
She had missed a call from her mother early that morning, she said.
Grapel first heard the news of Ilan’s release from their parents. “They’ve been my main source of information – I can’t keep track of what consulate they’re talking to when.”
Even after hearing that a potential deal was in place for her brother’s release, she “remained skeptical until I felt that there was something tangible that I could grasp.
There had already been a couple of false alarms, and I didn’t want my parents to be disappointed again.”
In much of our conversation, Michal reiterated her concern for her parents, who suffered tremendously during her brother’s five months in an Egyptian prison.
“I knew that Ilan is a strong person and I feel like his time when he was in the IDF prepared him for anything,” Michal said of her brother, served in the Paratroop Brigade during the Second Lebanon War in 2006 and was wounded. “For me, it was more about my parents and seeing them through this.”
“It’s the most heartbreaking thing for a child to see their parent struggle,” she said. “That was the toughest part – the heartbreak on a day-to-day basis for five months. That’ll be the biggest relief for me – I’m so happy for them that they’ll be able to finally sleep again.”
Grapel demurred when asked how she felt at seeing Gilad Schalit’s release from captivity last week.
“Of course, I’m thrilled and so happy Gilad is home too,” Michal said. “I felt like they were both captives, but it was very different circumstances.
For Ilan it was only five months, and he was being held under completely different conditions than Gilad was.”
“I didn’t compare and say, ‘Well, Gilad is being let go perhaps Ilan may too,” she said. “I heard there was a possibility that that might happen, but I wasn’t going to believe it just yet – I just wanted to wait and see how things played out.
“That was an amazing day and I am so happy that Gilad is home,” Grapel said. “And I’ll be happy when Ilan is home.”
Grapel’s phone has been ringing off the hook with congratulatory messages ever since the news that her brother was to be released from prison in Egypt.
“It’ll be good to see him – I’m so psyched for that,” she said. “Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It’ll be so great to have everybody there.
“My gut told me when we first found out about this that it was going to be at some point in the autumn, and I was just hoping it would be the Jewish holidays and if not that, Thanksgiving,” she said. “And it will be really, really great to have the whole family together.”