Israeli lone soldiers – those who immigrated to lsrael without their families – had the chance to meet with the former captive IDF soldier Gilad Shalit last week.
The 50 young soldiers, who hail from countries across the world including the USA, Canada, Australia, Spain, Costa Rica, South Africa, France, Norway, Mexico, Argentina, and Brazil, are serving in various units in the Israeli army.
- Gilad Shalit speaks of Hamas captivity
- Behind the scenes of the Shalit deal
- 'No red lines crossed in Shalit deal'
Shalit told the soldiers, who serve in the Paratroopers, Intelligence, Infantry and Communications units, that he admired them for their contribution to Israel.
Shalit supports lone soldiers (Photo: Sasson Tiram)
“Your decision to leave your families and friends and to make aliyah on your own and join the army is truly courageous and admirable,” said Shalit during a special Nefesh B’Nefesh and Friends of the IDF (FIDF) event held in the Nefesh B’Nefesh offices in Jerusalem this past Thursday.
During the meeting, the soldiers spoke with Shalit and played pool and ping pong with him. One of the soldiers, who made aliyah from South Africa, brought a t-shirt she wore a few years ago during one of the "Free Gilad Shalit" demonstrations back home. The t-shirt came full circle when Shalit signed it for her in her new homeland.
Shirt worn at "Free Gilad" demonstration (Photo: Sasson Tiram)
Shalit expressed his support for the lone soldiers, saying: “Although you are far from your own families, you are not alone – we are all one family and are here to support you and make you feel most welcome as Israeli citizens."
Gilad Shalit was held for five years in the Gaza Strip, after he was captured by Hamas terrorists on the Gaza border in June 2006 when was 19 years old. Shalit was released in October 2011 and gave his first full televised interview one year later to Israel’s Channel 10, where he detailed his life in captivity and the aftermath of his release.
“It’s difficult coming back to normal life,” Shalit related in the television documentary. “It’s difficult socially. People have changed, have grown up, you feel as if you were left behind.”
Shalit explained that he always tried to remain optimistic and maintain a schedule, keeping track of the dates. In order to the pass the time, he would play basketball with a pair of socks and a trash can, draw maps of his town and write down lists of his favorite sports teams and people he knew. Shalit was allowed to watch sports from time to time on TV. "As a sports fan, I drew so much strength from it. Sport is an international language and it helped create a better atmosphere with the captors. It was something I could discuss with them."
Tazpit News Agency contributed to the report
- Receive Ynetnews updates
directly to your desktop