The family, he said, was grateful that their son's captivity ordeal has finally come to its end: "Gilad is feeling well. He has several minor wounds, left from fragmentation injuries he had suffered at the time (of the abduction) and is suffering from the ramifications of sunlight depravations. He has doctors orders on that matter and he will follow them," the visibly emotional father said.
"Today, we are ending a long journey that began in June 2006. Gilad is home. At the end of the day and after a long battle we were able to bring him home.
- For extensive coverage of the Shalit deal, click here
"Gilad is happy to be home, but finds it difficult to be around a large number of people, as he was held in seclusion for so many days and years and had only minimal contact with people, mainly his captors.
Sharing a few details about his son's time in Hamas captivity, Shalit senior said: "Gilad told us that for the first years his conditions were harsh, but in the last few years they had improved. We really can't say any more."
"He will now start his rehabilitation, which we hope will be as swift as possible. With the help of the military doctors, we hope he will be able to resume his normal life. Today we are our son has been reborn," he stated.
Homecoming in Mitzpe Hila (Photo: Avishag Shaar-Yashuv)
"I want to thank all of the people who came to support us and welcome Gilad home with such warmth, and in a show of solidarity… The wonderful flight crew that brought us home flew over the town a few times and thanks to that he was able to see the support and all of the people who came here.
"We would like to thank the Israeli public who supported us every step of the way, and we thank the campaign activists and who were with us throughout all this time and today.
"We would also like to thank the IDF and the police who were instrumental in making sure this operation was successful, and to the Tel Nof Airbase, for taking wonderful care of us and seeing to Gilad's needs."
The family, he added, "Wants to thank the government and the prime minister, and all those who were involved in making this difficult decision. For us as well, the deal was hard to accept. I was at the High Court of Justice, and I faced the bereaved families, whose pain we sympathize with. We feel the pain for the price they paid for Gilad's freedom.
"We hope, "he concluded," "That at this time the media will understand our needs (for privacy) and that it will eventually let us resume our normal."
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