Final preparations for the return of captive soldier Gilad Shalit are underway in Mitzpe Hila. Members of the Gilad's Army of Friends organization are posting 3,000 signs reading "Good to have you back home" across the country, quoting the words of a famous Israeli song by Arik Einstein.
Psychologists have advised the Shalit family to retrieve the family home to the state Gilad had left it as much as possible. He may also find relief in familiar smells of the house. Friends of the family said that Aviva has yet to start cooking but that all the necessary ingredients and Gilad's favorites have already been purchased.
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"The atmosphere is one of joy but there is also immense tension," Ella Hefetz, a Shalit activist said. "I believe we will only be able to calm down tomorrow as soon as he is on Israeli soil." Hefetz said the activists are trying to let the family have some peace and quite.
The activist has never met Gilad but says this is not important. "I did what I though was right, I accompanied the family and the struggle for reasons of principle. It makes no difference if I know Gilad or not. It's not urgent for me to meet him either. What's important is that he get back home to his family and parents."
- For extensive coverage of the Shalit deal, click here
Residents of Mitzpe Hila will greet Gilad at the entrance to the town holding up Israeli flags.
Meanwhile, security forces are on high alert ahead of Tuesday's exchange. Police will restrict the entry of non-residents to Mitzpe Hila. It has yet to be decided where the helicopter transporting Gilad and his family from the Tel Nof base to Mitzpe Hila will land.
On Sunday, a Black Hawk helicopter held an exercise landing in the area ahead of big day.
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