Freed Israeli Soldier Gilad Shalit Reunites with Family

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- After more than five years in Hamas captivity, Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit returned home Tuesday as a result of a controversial prisoner swap.

The first pictures of Shalit came from Egyptian television and were rebroadcast on Israeli TV.

Hamas transferred the 25-year-old to Egypt on Tuesday morning while nearly 500 Palestinian terrorists were being freed to the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and elsewhere for exile. 

At the border, Shalit was interviewed by Egyptian television. Answering in Hebrew, Shalit said he was very excited, he hadn't seen people in a very long time, and he missed his family.

Just after 11 a.m. local time, Israel announced that Shalit was in Israel's hands and he was given an IDF uniform.

After leaving Egypt, Shalit flew by helicopter to Tel Nof Air Force base. He met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz.

And, for the first time in more than five years, he was reunited with his parents, Noam and Aviva Shalit.

Tuesday was a dream come true for the Shalit family, and Israelis are very glad to see their soldier return home. But it's also a day of mixed emotions.

CBN News Sr. Editor John Waage will talk more about Shalit and whether Tuesday's prisoner swap will unleash a new round of Palestinian terror, on the CBN News Channel's Midday News, Oct. 18.   

 Alan Bauer and his son were wounded in a suicide bombing in Jerusalem nine years ago. A screw lodged in Bauer's arm and a piece of shrapnel went through his son's brain.

"We're obviously very happy for Gilad's return home, but we feel it's a definite failure on the part of the Israeli government to allow the release of such an enormous number of terrorists," he said. 

"It's been shown that 60 to 80 percent [of released prisoners] have traditionally gone back to terror, and there's an incredible disregard not only for the victims, but also for the legal system," Bauer said.

In total, more than 1,000 terrorists will be released in exchange for Shalit. Many of them were serving life sentences for some of the worst terror attacks in Israel's history.

Many are hoping Shalit's release won't lead to a new round of terror.

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CBN News
Chris Mitchell and Julie Stahl

Chris Mitchell and Julie Stahl

CBN News Jerusalem Bureau

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