Gilad Shalit Accompanies 'Children's' Aliyah Flight

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- Gilad Shalit, the former Israeli soldier held captive by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, is accompanying 231 new immigrants from the United States, among them 106 children.

Shalit spent more than five years in captivity before a lopsided prisoner exchange with the Gaza-based terror group in October 2011.

In the first chartered aliyah (immigration to Israel under the Law of Return) flight this summer, co-sponsored by Nefesh b'Nefesh, the Jewish Agency, Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemet l'Yisrael) and the Immigrant Absorption Ministry, is slated to arrive at 7:00 a.m. Tuesday.

The 231 new immigrants are made up of 41 families, 54 young singles and 106 children. By summer's end, 2,500 new immigrants will call Israel home.

Nefesh b'Nefesh, which has helped thousands of Jews from the United States, Canada and England immigrate to Israel, said the 989 children slated to immigrate this year represent a 20 percent increase from 2012.

Israeli Aliyah and Absorption Minister Sofa Landver, Agricultural Minister Yair Shamir, and Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky are among those who will welcome the new arrivals at Ben Gurion International Airport on Tuesday morning.

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