Tel Nof, Israel, Oct. 18 – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed Gilad Shalit home on Tuesday after the Israeli soldier’s five years in Hamas captivity.
Netanyahu accompanied Shalit down from the helicopter that brought him from the Egyptian border to the Tel Nof military base in southern Israel.
Netanyahu brought Shalit to his parents Aviva and Noam and told them that he was fulfilling his promise to return their son but that at the same time he was thinking of the terrorists he had to release in order to gain Shalit’s freedom.
“We are all united on this day in joy and pain,” Netanyahu said in a statement to the media a few minutes later.
He also used the opportunity to explain the rationale behind the deal that saw the release of 1,027 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails.
“There was a need to reduce as much as possible the danger to Israeli citizens, so I set two clear conditions: one, that top Hamas mass murderers would remain in prison; and two, that most of those freed would be deported or kept away from the territories of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank),” he said.
The Israeli premier warned that any of those released whoreturn to terror will have to deal with consequences.
He concluded by explaining what is in the heart of Israelis on this bittersweet day:
“We sanctify life. This is an ancient tradition of the Jewish people.”