Shalit thanked Netanyahu for his release to which the prime minister responded with: "This year the holiday of liberation (Passover)gets a special meaning. From slavery to freedom; from darkness to light.
"You're looking very well and it is evident that you are coming back to life. I'm happy that you are proving (your ability) to overcome all; that you went to see a basketball game and gained weight."
Gilad and Aviva Shalit with Netanyahu (Photo: GPO)
The prime minister mentioned that throughout the period of Gilad's captivity, his wife Sara told him again and again to think of the boy living in darkness.
Shalit confirmed that he had gained 6 kilograms since his release. "Now time goes by faster and I'm more active. For example, I have a more varied daily routine. I even came here on the train. Soon I'll be discharged from the army."
Gilad's father Noam added that the family sought to meet the prime minister because they wanted to thank those responsible for the release of their son. Aviva Shalit gave the prime minister a book with a dedication: "To the Prime Minister Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, with respect and esteem…from Gilad and the Shalit family.
Aviva added: "It was important for me to come here today with Gilad so that you will see how 'whoever saves one life, saves the world entire.' We came to say thank you to you and your wife who was in constant contact with me."
The Shalit family with Prime Minister Netanyahu (Photo: GPO)
Netanyahu and Shalit first met on the day of Gilad's release at the Tel Nof base. When Shalit met Netanyahu and Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, he saluted. Netanyahu hugged him and told him: Welcome back to the State of Israel, it's so good to have you home."
In February Shalit visited France where he met with French President Nicolas Sarkozy who was among those who worked towards Gilad's release.
Soon Sergeant First Class Shalit will be discharged, though an exact date has yet to be decided.
Shalit will continue to receive treatment from the Defense Ministry which will decide his status as a disabled IDF veteran. He will be entitled to further medical and psychological care and may receive a monthly allowance as a disabled IDF veteran.
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