Friday, October 2, 2009

Gilad Shalit Proof of Life

I just want to post this here now as the news breaks. I have a short word or two to say about the matter in a post coming out at the end of the week, but just for now...

Here's the video itself on the Israeli news channel's website

An article:
Link to original Jerusalem Post article

Watch new Schalit video: 'I yearn to see my family again'
Oct. 2, 2009 Staff , THE JERUSALEM POST
After over three years in which IDF St.-Sgt. Gilad Schalit has been held in Hamas captivity in the Gaza Strip, Israel breathed a sigh of relief on Friday afternoon after video footage of the captive soldier was released to the media and aired on Israeli television channels.

Click on the image on the right side to watch the clip. A version with English subtitles will appear shortly.

The two-minute long clip shows Schalit addressing Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his parents Noam and Aviva, telling them he is being treated well by the Hamas and is in good health, but yearning for the day on which he will see his family again. Schalit is seen clean shaven with a fresh haircut, wearing black clothes.

The video was received in return for the release of 20 Palestinian female prisoners. Israel released 19 of them on Friday morning, 18 to the West Bank and one to Gaza. The 20th prisoner will be released Sunday, after it turned out that a prisoner released Wednesday was finishing her sentence anyway and would therefore be released regardless of the deal.

Following is the full transcript of Schalit's video message:

"Hello, I am Gilad, son of Noam and Aviva Schalit, brother of Hadas and Yoel, who lives in Mitzpe Hila. My ID number is 300097029.

"As you see I am holding in my hands the Palestine newspaper of September 14, 2009, published in Gaza. I am reading the paper in order to find information regarding myself, hoping to find some information from which I would learn of my release and upcoming return home. I have been hoping and waiting for the day of me release for a long time. I hope the current government under Binyamin Netanyahu will not waste the chance to finalize a deal, and I will therefore be able to finally have my dream come true and be released.

"I wish to send regards to my family and say to them that I love and miss them and yearn for the day in which I would see them again.

"Dad, Yoel and Hadas, do you remember the day when you visited my base on the Golan Heights on December 31st, 2005, that if I am not mistaken was called Revaya B. We walked around the base and you took photos of me on the Merkava tank and on one of the old tanks at the entrance to the base. We then went to a restaurant in one of the Druze villages and on the way we took photos on the side of the road with the snow-covered Mount Hermon in the background.

"I wish to say to you that I feel good, health-wise, and the Mujahadeen of the Izzadien al-Qassam Brigades are treating me very well. Thank you and goodbye."

In the footage, Schalit addresses the camera directly, and at one point walks up to the camera and then returns to his chair. He also appears relaxed, not terrified.

By 12:30, Netanyahu's appointee on the Schalit case, Hagai Hadas, reached the Prime Minister's official residence in Jerusalem with the footage. Hadas and IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi had already reviewed the footage and approved the release of the prisoners, indicating that the video fulfilled Israel's demands, namely that the video was at least a minute long, recent and showed Schalit talking.

OC Manpower Division Maj.-Gen. Avi Zamir arrived by helicopter with a copy of the video at the Schalit residence in Mitzpe Hila, where he was scheduled to view the video with the family.

Noam Schalit said before viewing the tape that the family eagerly awaits it.

The Prime Minister's Office issued a statement following the release of the clip.

"Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu watched the video of Gilad Schalit in his office and has spoken with Noam Schalit," a statement read by the prime minister's media spokesman said.

"The prime minister believes the importance of the tape is in putting the responsibility for Gilad's health and wellbeing squarely on Hamas's shoulders. The prime minister says that even though the the release of Schalit is still far from us, the video is an encouraging sign," the statement continued.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak spoke with Noam Schalit and Zvi Schalit, Gilad's grandfather, at around 2 p.m., just minutes after the family viewed the video, according to a statement issued by Barak's office.

The defense minister told the Schalits "I want to hug you. Gilad looks healthy, and this fact only further puts into focus my own responsibility and the responsibility of all of us to bring him home."

A statement issued by the Elysee Palace in Paris called for the "immediate, unconditional release of Schalit." Schalit holds dual Israeli-French citizenship and his father Noam has been lobbying with French President Nicholas Sarkozy to help in securing the release of his son.

Gilad Schalit has been held in captivity in the Gaza Strip for 1,195 days.


Anonymous said...

Let us just hope that Gilad gets safely back home to his loving family and friends. Also on that note, tishmor al atzmecha. Ve kol hakavod al ha avoda ha metzuyenet shelcha.

Ruanne said...

God willing, he will return soon and safely.