Gilad Shalit
Overview
 
Gilad Shalit is an Israeli – French citizen and Israel Defense Forces
Israel Defense Forces
The Israel Defense Forces , commonly known in Israel by the Hebrew acronym Tzahal , are the military forces of the State of Israel. They consist of the ground forces, air force and navy. It is the sole military wing of the Israeli security forces, and has no civilian jurisdiction within Israel...

 (IDF) soldier. On 25 June 2006, he was captured inside Israel by Hamas
Hamas
Hamas is the Palestinian Sunni Islamic or Islamist political party that governs the Gaza Strip. Hamas also has a military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades...

 militants in a cross-border raid via underground tunnels near the border with Gaza. The Hamas militants held him for over five years, until he was released on 18 October 2011.


During his captivity, Hamas turned down requests from the International Committee of the Red Cross
International Committee of the Red Cross
The International Committee of the Red Cross is a private humanitarian institution based in Geneva, Switzerland. States parties to the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols of 1977 and 2005, have given the ICRC a mandate to protect the victims of international and...

 (ICRC) to be allowed to visit Shalit.
Encyclopedia
Gilad Shalit is an Israeli – French citizen and Israel Defense Forces
Israel Defense Forces
The Israel Defense Forces , commonly known in Israel by the Hebrew acronym Tzahal , are the military forces of the State of Israel. They consist of the ground forces, air force and navy. It is the sole military wing of the Israeli security forces, and has no civilian jurisdiction within Israel...

 (IDF) soldier. On 25 June 2006, he was captured inside Israel by Hamas
Hamas
Hamas is the Palestinian Sunni Islamic or Islamist political party that governs the Gaza Strip. Hamas also has a military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades...

 militants in a cross-border raid via underground tunnels near the border with Gaza. The Hamas militants held him for over five years, until he was released on 18 October 2011.


During his captivity, Hamas turned down requests from the International Committee of the Red Cross
International Committee of the Red Cross
The International Committee of the Red Cross is a private humanitarian institution based in Geneva, Switzerland. States parties to the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols of 1977 and 2005, have given the ICRC a mandate to protect the victims of international and...

 (ICRC) to be allowed to visit Shalit. Hamas claimed that any such visit could betray the location of Shalit. However, multiple human rights organizations criticize this stance, and said the conditions of Shalit's confinement were contrary to international humanitarian law
International humanitarian law
International humanitarian law , often referred to as the laws of war, the laws and customs of war or the law of armed conflict, is the legal corpus that comprises "the Geneva Conventions and the Hague Conventions, as well as subsequent treaties, case law, and customary international law." It...

. The Red Cross insisted, “The Shalit family have the right under international humanitarian law to be in contact with their son”. The United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict
United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict
The United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, known as the Goldstone Report, was a team established in April 2009 by the United Nations Human Rights Council during the Gaza War as an independent international fact-finding mission to investigate alleged violations of international...

 called for Shalit's release in its September 2009 report. In its 27 May 2011 Deauville Declaration, the G8
G8
The Group of Eight is a forum, created by France in 1975, for the governments of seven major economies: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In 1997, the group added Russia, thus becoming the G8...

 demanded the release of Gilad Shalit. Shalit's sympathizers deemed his capture a kidnapping
Kidnapping
In criminal law, kidnapping is the taking away or transportation of a person against that person's will, usually to hold the person in false imprisonment, a confinement without legal authority...

, because he was not granted any visits from the Red Cross and to communicate with family members (to which he is entitled as a captured soldier under the Geneva Convention
Third Geneva Convention
The Third Geneva Convention, relative to the treatment of prisoners of war, is one of the four treaties of the Geneva Conventions. It was first adopted in 1929, but was significantly updated in 1949...

s), and because a ransom
Ransom
Ransom is the practice of holding a prisoner or item to extort money or property to secure their release, or it can refer to the sum of money involved.In an early German law, a similar concept was called bad influence...

, even if not of a monetary nature, was demanded for his return.
The only contact between Shalit and the outside world after his capture and before his release were three letters, an audio tape, and a DVD that Israel received in return for releasing 20 female Palestinian prisoners.

Shalit was abducted near the Kerem Shalom
Kerem Shalom
Kerem Shalom is a kibbutz in the Eshkol Regional Council and a border crossing near the meeting of the Gaza Strip-Israel-Egypt borders.- Kibbutz :The kibbutz was founded in 1966 adjacent to the triborder area by members of Hashomer Hatzair...

 crossing in Israel, and was held by Hamas
Hamas
Hamas is the Palestinian Sunni Islamic or Islamist political party that governs the Gaza Strip. Hamas also has a military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades...

 as a hostage
Hostage
A hostage is a person or entity which is held by a captor. The original definition meant that this was handed over by one of two belligerent parties to the other or seized as security for the carrying out of an agreement, or as a preventive measure against certain acts of war...

 at an unknown location in the Gaza Strip
Gaza Strip
thumb|Gaza city skylineThe Gaza Strip lies on the Eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The Strip borders Egypt on the southwest and Israel on the south, east and north. It is about long, and between 6 and 12 kilometres wide, with a total area of...

. On 18 October 2011, he was released in a deal
Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange
The Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange followed an agreement between Israel and Hamas to release Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for 1,027 prisoners – mainly Palestinians and Arab-Israelis, though among the prisoners released there was also a Ukrainian prisoner, a Jordanian prisoner, and a...

 that secured his freedom after more than five years in isolation and captivity, in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian convicted prisoners, including some convicted of multiple murders and carrying out terror attacks against Israeli civilians (the prisoners released were collectively responsible for 569 Israeli deaths). Hamas' previous demands of releasing of all female and underage Palestinians as well as Marwan Barghouti
Marwan Barghouti
Marwan Hasib Ibrahim Barghouti is a Palestinian political figure. He is regarded as a leader of the First and Second Intifadas. Barghouti at one time supported the peace process, but later became disillusioned, and after 2000 went on to become the main figure behind the Al-Aqsa Intifada in the...

 were not met.

Shalit was the first Israeli soldier captured by Palestinian militants since Nachshon Wachsman in 1994. Shalit, holding a rank
Military rank
Military rank is a system of hierarchical relationships in armed forces or civil institutions organized along military lines. Usually, uniforms denote the bearer's rank by particular insignia affixed to the uniforms...

 of corporal
Israel Defense Forces ranks
Israel Defense Forces The Israel Defense Forces have a unique rank structure. Because the IDF is an integrated force, ranks are the same in all services The ranks are derived from those of the paramilitary Haganah developed in the Mandate period to protect the Yishuv...

 in the IDF's Armor Corps at the time of his abduction, was promoted to Staff Sergeant, Sergeant First Class and then Sergeant Major on the eve of his release.

Personal life

Shalit was born on 28 August 1986 in Nahariya
Nahariya
Nahariya is the northernmost coastal city in Israel, with an estimated population of 51,200.-History:Nahariya was founded by German Jewish immigrants from the Fifth Aliyah in the 1930s...

, Israel, to Noam and Aviva Shalit. He has an older brother, and a younger sister. He was raised from the age of two in Mitzpe Hila
Mitzpe Hila
Mitzpe Hila is a communal town in northern Israel. Located in the western Galilee hills near the Lebanese border, it falls under the jurisdiction of Ma'ale Yosef Regional Council. In 2006 it had a population of 572....

, in the Western Galilee
Galilee
Galilee , is a large region in northern Israel which overlaps with much of the administrative North District of the country. Traditionally divided into Upper Galilee , Lower Galilee , and Western Galilee , extending from Dan to the north, at the base of Mount Hermon, along Mount Lebanon to the...

.

He graduated with distinction from Manor Kabri High School. He began military service in the Israel Defense Forces
Israel Defense Forces
The Israel Defense Forces , commonly known in Israel by the Hebrew acronym Tzahal , are the military forces of the State of Israel. They consist of the ground forces, air force and navy. It is the sole military wing of the Israeli security forces, and has no civilian jurisdiction within Israel...

 in July 2005, and "despite a low medical profile, preferred to serve in a combat unit, following his older brother, Yoel, into the armored corps." He holds dual
Multiple citizenship
Multiple citizenship is a status in which a person is concurrently regarded as a citizen under the laws of more than one state. Multiple citizenships exist because different countries use different, and not necessarily mutually exclusive, citizenship requirements...

 Israeli and French citizenship, via his grandmother.

Capture

Early on Sunday morning, 25 June 2006, Palestinian militants from the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades
Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades
The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades is the military wing of the Palestinian Islamist fundamentalist socio-political organisation Hamas. Created in 1992, under the direction of Yahya Ayyash, the primary objective of the group was to build a coherent military organisation to support the goals of...

, Popular Resistance Committees
Popular Resistance Committees
The Popular Resistance Committees are a coalition of various armed Palestinian factions that oppose the conciliatory approach adopted by the Palestinian Authority and Fatah towards Israel...

, and Army of Islam
Army of Islam
The Army of Islam was a military unit of the Ottoman Empire formed on July 10, 1918. Its creation was ordered by Enver Pasha who couldn't resist the lure of Pan-Turanism.-Background:...

 infiltrated into Israel from the Gaza Strip through an underground tunnel near the Kerem Shalom
Kerem Shalom
Kerem Shalom is a kibbutz in the Eshkol Regional Council and a border crossing near the meeting of the Gaza Strip-Israel-Egypt borders.- Kibbutz :The kibbutz was founded in 1966 adjacent to the triborder area by members of Hashomer Hatzair...

 border crossing. They then infiltrated an attacked an Israeli army post from behind. Two of the Palestinian militants were killed, while two IDF soldiers were killed and three others wounded, aside from Shalit. Shalit suffered a broken left hand and a light shoulder wound, and the militants then captured him.

Shalit's captors issued a statement the following day, offering information on Shalit if Israel were to agree to release all female Palestinian prisoners and all Palestinian prisoners under the age of 18. The statement was issued by the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades
Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades
The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades is the military wing of the Palestinian Islamist fundamentalist socio-political organisation Hamas. Created in 1992, under the direction of Yahya Ayyash, the primary objective of the group was to build a coherent military organisation to support the goals of...

, the Popular Resistance Committees
Popular Resistance Committees
The Popular Resistance Committees are a coalition of various armed Palestinian factions that oppose the conciliatory approach adopted by the Palestinian Authority and Fatah towards Israel...

 (which includes members of Fatah
Fatah
Fataḥ is a major Palestinian political party and the largest faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization , a multi-party confederation. In Palestinian politics it is on the left-wing of the spectrum; it is mainly nationalist, although not predominantly socialist. Its official goals are found...

, Islamic Jihad, and Hamas
Hamas
Hamas is the Palestinian Sunni Islamic or Islamist political party that governs the Gaza Strip. Hamas also has a military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades...

), and a previously unknown group calling itself the Army of Islam
Palestinian Army of Islam
Army of Islam , also known as Tawhid and Jihad Brigades, is the name used by the Doghmush Hamula for their Islamic militant activities. It is located at the Tzabra neighborhood in the center of the Gaza Strip bordered by Israel and Egypt...

.
On 14 June 2007, Israel Army Radio
Israel Army Radio
Army Radio or Galei Tzahal known in Israel by its acronym Galatz , is a nationwide Israeli radio network operated by the Israel Defense Forces....

 reported that the army had received a warning on 24 June 2006, the day before Shalit was captured, about a planned capture of an Israeli soldier. According to the report, Israeli security forces entered the Gaza Strip on 24 June 2006 and detained two brothers
Muamar family detention incident
The Muamar family detention incident occurred very early on the morning of June 24, 2006, in the first taking of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip by Israeli Defence Forces since the Israeli evacuation of Gaza one year earlier, when IDF soldiers entered the house of the Muamar family in a village...

, described as Hamas
Hamas
Hamas is the Palestinian Sunni Islamic or Islamist political party that governs the Gaza Strip. Hamas also has a military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades...

 members. The report said that the brothers were transferred to Israel for interrogation, and that the information extracted formed the basis for the warning that militants would try to enter Israel through tunnels to capture soldiers stationed near Gaza.

Shalit was the first Israeli soldier captured by Palestinians since Nachshon Wachsman, in 1994. His abduction and the following cross-border raid by Hezbollah, resulting in the abduction of the bodies of Ehud Goldwasser
Ehud Goldwasser
Ehud Goldwasser was an Israeli soldier who was abducted in Israel by Hezbollah along with Eldad Regev on 12 July 2006, sparking the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict. His rank was First Sergeant....

 and Eldad Regev
Eldad Regev
Eldad Regev was an Israeli soldier, born in Qiryat Motzkin, abducted by Hezbollah members along with Ehud Goldwasser on July 12, 2006, in Israel near the Lebanese border, sparking the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict. His rank was Sergeant First Class....

 into Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

, occurred prior to the conflicts in Gaza
2006 Israel-Gaza conflict
The 2006 Israel–Gaza conflict refers to the series of battles between Palestinian militants and the Israel Defense Forces . Large-scale conventional warfare beyond the peripheries of the Gaza Strip began when Israel launched Operation Summer Rains , the codename for an IDF military operation in the...

 and Lebanon
2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict
The 2006 Lebanon War, also called the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah War and known in Lebanon as the July War #Other uses|Tammūz]]) and in Israel as the Second Lebanon War , was a 34-day military conflict in Lebanon, northern Israel and the Israeli-occupied territories. The principal parties were Hezbollah...

 during summer 2006.

The high-ranking Hamas commander whom Israel considers responsible for coordinating Shalit's capture, Abu Jibril Shimali, was killed during the violent clashes between Hamas and the al-Qaida-affiliated Jund Ansar Allah
Jund Ansar Allah
Jund Ansar Allah is an armed Islamist organization operating in the Gaza Strip. On August 14, 2009, the group's spiritual leader, Sheikh Abdel Latif Moussa, announced the establishment of an Islamic emirate in the Palestinian territories and criticized the ruling power, Hamas, for failing to...

 organization in Gaza in August 2009.

Rescue attempt

Israeli forces entered Khan Yunis
Khan Yunis
Khan Yunis - often spelt Khan Younis or Khan Yunnis - is a city and adjacent refugee camp in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics the city, its refugee camp, and its immediate surroundings had a total population of 180,000 in 2006...

 on 28 June 2006 to search for Shalit. According to an Israeli embassy spokesman, “Israel did everything it could in exhausting all diplomatic options and gave Mahmoud Abbas
Mahmoud Abbas
Mahmoud Abbas , also known by the kunya Abu Mazen , has been the Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organisation since 11 November 2004 and became President of the Palestinian National Authority on 15 January 2005 on the Fatah ticket.Elected to serve until 9 January 2009, he unilaterally...

 the opportunity to return the abducted Israeli… This operation can be terminated immediately, conditioned on the release of Gilad Shalit.” On the same day, four Israeli Air Force
Israeli Air Force
The Israeli Air Force is the air force of the State of Israel and the aerial arm of the Israel Defense Forces. It was founded on May 28, 1948, shortly after the Israeli Declaration of Independence...

 aircraft flew over Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

n President Bashar Assad's palace in Latakia
Latakia
Latakia, or Latakiyah , is the principal port city of Syria, as well as the capital of the Latakia Governorate. In addition to serving as a port, the city is a manufacturing center for surrounding agricultural towns and villages...

, as an IDF spokesperson said that Israel views the Syrian leadership as a sponsor of Hamas. The operation did not succeed in finding Shalit.

On 29 June, the commander of the Israeli Southern Command
Israeli Southern Command
The Israeli Southern Command , often abbreviated to Padam is a regional command of the Israel Defense Forces. It is responsible for the Negev, the Arava, and Eilat. It is currently headed by Aluf Tal Russo.-History:...

, Aluf
Aluf
Aluf is the term used for General and Admiral in the Israel Defense Forces . In addition to the Aluf rank itself, there are four other ranks which are derivatives of the word...

 Yoav Galant
Yoav Galant
Aluf Yoav Galant is a general in the Israel Defense Forces and a former commander of the Southern Command.Galant was initially chosen in to succeed Gabi Ashkenazi as the next Chief of General Staff in 2011 by Defense Minister Ehud Barak and approved by the Israeli government However, his...

, confirmed that Shalit was still in Gaza. Israel's Minister of Justice, Haim Ramon
Haim Ramon
Haim Ramon is an Israeli politician who served as a member of the Knesset between 1983 and 2009, and as both Vice Prime Minister and Minister in the Prime Minister's Office with responsibility for state policy.-Biography:...

, added that Shalit was being held in southern Gaza, specifically. A military correspondent for the Israel Broadcasting Authority
Israel Broadcasting Authority
Israel Broadcasting Authority is Israel's state broadcasting network.It grew out of the radio station Kol Yisrael, which made its first broadcast as an independent station on . The name of the organisation operating Kol Yisrael was changed to Israel Broadcasting Service in 1951...

 said that Shalit was being held captive in Rafah
Rafah
Rafah , also known as Rafiah, is a Palestinian city in the southern Gaza Strip. Located south of Gaza, Rafah's population of 71,003 is overwhelmingly made up of Palestinian refugees. Rafah camp and Tall as-Sultan form separate localities. Rafah is the district capital of the Rafah Governorate...

 in southern Gaza, and that there was indication that he was still alive. However, IDF spokesperson
IDF Spokesperson's Unit
The IDF Spokesperson's Unit is the unit in the IDF Operations Directorate, responsible for information policy and media relations. The unit is led by the IDF Spokesperson, a brigadier general and member of the General Staff, and by the Deputy Spokesperson, a colonel. The current Spokesperson is...

 Brig. Gen. Miri Regev
Miri Regev
Miriam "Miri" Regev is an Israeli politician and a former Brigadier General in the army. She currently serves as a member of the Knesset for Likud, having previously worked as the IDF Spokeswoman.-Biography:...

 said: “we are not convinced he is being held in southern Gaza… [only] that he is being held in Gaza”.

On 1 July, the BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

 reported that Shalit had been treated by a Palestinian doctor for a broken hand and a light shoulder wound. Israeli government authorities threatened that the “sky will fall” if Shalit were harmed.

On the same day, Shalit's captors demanded that Israel release an additional 1,000 Palestinian prisoners (in addition to all female and young prisoners, as previously demanded), and end Israel's incursions into Gaza. Two days later, the captors issued a 24-hour ultimatum for meeting their demands, threatening unspecified consequences if Israel refused.

Diplomatic efforts

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
Ehud Olmert
Ehud Olmert is an Israeli politician and lawyer. He served as Prime Minister of Israel from 2006 to 2009, as a Cabinet Minister from 1988 to 1992 and from 2003 to 2006, and as Mayor of Jerusalem from 1993 to 2003....

 immediately ruled out negotiations with Shalit's captors, demanding his unconditional release. "There will be no negotiations to release prisoners," the Prime Minister's Bureau said in a statement. "The government of Israel will not give in to extortion by the Palestinian Authority and the Hamas government, which are headed by murderous terror organizations. The Palestinian Authority bears full responsibility for the welfare of Gilad Shalit and for returning him to Israel in good condition."

The Apostolic Nuncio to Israel
Apostolic Nuncio to Israel
The Apostolic Nuncio to Israel is the holder of a diplomatic position within the Vatican, who acts as nuncio of the Holy See to the State of Israel.-History:...

, Archbishop
Archbishop
An archbishop is a bishop of higher rank, but not of higher sacramental order above that of the three orders of deacon, priest , and bishop...

 Antonio Franco
Antonio Franco
Antonio Franco is a Vatican diplomat.He was ordained a Priest of Telese o Cerreto Sannita, Italy on 10 July 1960 and appointed Titular Archbishop of Gallesium on 28 March 1992...

, attempted to secure Shalit's release via the Catholic Church's Gaza-based parish. He was not successful.

In September 2006, Egyptian mediators received a letter in which Shalit wrote that he was alive and well. The handwriting was confirmed to be that of Shalit. In October, Egypt was also reported to be negotiating with Hamas on behalf of Israel for Shalit's release.

On 28 October 2006, the Popular Resistance Committees
Popular Resistance Committees
The Popular Resistance Committees are a coalition of various armed Palestinian factions that oppose the conciliatory approach adopted by the Palestinian Authority and Fatah towards Israel...

 (PRC) said in a statement that all three parties had agreed to a proposal by Egyptian mediators regarding Shalit's release. The PRC did not provide details, but said that the Egyptian proposal would include the release of Palestinians held by Israel. It was the first time since Shalit's capture that any of the factions indicated that his release might be imminent.

In November 2006, Hamas leader Khaled Mashal
Khaled Mashal
Khaled Mashal, also known as Khaled Mashaal, Khaled Meshaal, and Khalid Mish'al, has been the main leader of Hamas since the assassination of Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi in 2004. In addition, Mashal heads the Syrian branch of the political bureau of Hamas.Mashal was born in Silwad, a village north of...

 indicated that Shalit was alive and in good health.

On 9 January 2007, Abu Mujahed, a spokesman for the captors, asserted that Shalit
“has not been harmed at all ... He is being treated in accordance with Islamic values
Sharia
Sharia law, is the moral code and religious law of Islam. Sharia is derived from two primary sources of Islamic law: the precepts set forth in the Quran, and the example set by the Islamic prophet Muhammad in the Sunnah. Fiqh jurisprudence interprets and extends the application of sharia to...

 regulating the treatment of prisoners of war.”
However, he threatened: “We have managed to keep the soldier in captivity for six months and we have no problem keeping him for years.”

On 17 January 2007, one of the captor groups, the Army of Islam
Army of Islam
The Army of Islam was a military unit of the Ottoman Empire formed on July 10, 1918. Its creation was ordered by Enver Pasha who couldn't resist the lure of Pan-Turanism.-Background:...

 headed by Mumtaz Dormush, claimed that Shalit was being held exclusively by Hamas. On 8 March 2007, The Jerusalem Post
The Jerusalem Post
The Jerusalem Post is an Israeli daily English-language broadsheet newspaper, founded on December 1, 1932 by Gershon Agron as The Palestine Post. The daily readership numbers do not approach those of the major Hebrew newspapers....

reported that an agreement had been reached with Hamas over the number of prisoners Israel would release in return for Shalit. Israel and Hamas were still negotiating specific prisoners who Hamas wanted freed in return for Shalit.

On 7 April 2007, it was reported that Shalit's captors had transferred to Israel, through Egyptian mediators, a list of Palestinian prisoners they wanted freed. The list included names of approximately 1,300 prisoners, some of whom were high-ranking Fatah members.

On 4 February 2008, it was reported that Hamas had sent Shalit's family a second letter written by him. The handwriting was confirmed to be that of Shalit.

On 25 June 2007, a year after Shalit's capture, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades
Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades
The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades is the military wing of the Palestinian Islamist fundamentalist socio-political organisation Hamas. Created in 1992, under the direction of Yahya Ayyash, the primary objective of the group was to build a coherent military organisation to support the goals of...

 released an audio tape in which Shalit is heard sending a message to his family, friends, and the Israeli government and army, and appealing for a prisoner-swap deal to be reached to secure his release. Shalit said that his medical condition was deteriorating, and that he required immediate and lengthy hospitalization.

Gilad's father Noam Shalit met with former United States President Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter
James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. is an American politician who served as the 39th President of the United States and was the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, the only U.S. President to have received the Prize after leaving office...

 during Carter's April 2008 visit to Israel. Carter planned to visit Khaled Meshal of Hamas in Damascus later. Noam Shalit said that the fact that Carter was not considered pro-Israel could be beneficial in securing his son's release.

On 9 June 2008, it was reported that Hamas sent Shalit's family a third letter. The group had promised to send them a third letter after mediation from Carter. The handwriting was confirmed to be Shalit's.

On 12 August 2008, Hamas said that it was suspending talks on Shalit's release, demanding a complete lifting of the Israeli siege. The decision angered Egypt, a mediator for Shalit's release. Hamas in turn criticized the Egyptians for linking the opening of the Rafah
Rafah
Rafah , also known as Rafiah, is a Palestinian city in the southern Gaza Strip. Located south of Gaza, Rafah's population of 71,003 is overwhelmingly made up of Palestinian refugees. Rafah camp and Tall as-Sultan form separate localities. Rafah is the district capital of the Rafah Governorate...

 border crossing with Shalit's release, a condition to which Hamas refused to agree.

On 20 August 2008, in his briefing to the United Nations Security Council
United Nations Security Council
The United Nations Security Council is one of the principal organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. Its powers, outlined in the United Nations Charter, include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of...

, the Under-Secretary-General of the UN appeared to link the decision to release 200 Palestinian prisoners to the case, though a Hamas spokesman saw it as an attempt to increase Palestinian internal divisions by releasing only those loyal to the Fatah
Fatah
Fataḥ is a major Palestinian political party and the largest faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization , a multi-party confederation. In Palestinian politics it is on the left-wing of the spectrum; it is mainly nationalist, although not predominantly socialist. Its official goals are found...

 faction.

On 11 May 2010, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev
Dmitry Medvedev
Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev is the third President of the Russian Federation.Born to a family of academics, Medvedev graduated from the Law Department of Leningrad State University in 1987. He defended his dissertation in 1990 and worked as a docent at his alma mater, now renamed to Saint...

 called for Gilad Shalit to be freed "as soon as possible". He made the call while meeting Hamas leaders in Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

, Syria. "The Russian president urged solving the problem of releasing Israeli citizen Gilad Shalit as soon as possible," his spokeswoman said. Russia is the only country that has direct dialogue with Hamas. Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal reportedly said Hamas would only consider releasing Shalit when Israel resumed talks to free Palestinian prisoners.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas
Mahmoud Abbas
Mahmoud Abbas , also known by the kunya Abu Mazen , has been the Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organisation since 11 November 2004 and became President of the Palestinian National Authority on 15 January 2005 on the Fatah ticket.Elected to serve until 9 January 2009, he unilaterally...

 called for the release of Shalit in a press conference with visiting German President Christian Wulff
Christian Wulff
Christian Wilhelm Walter Wulff is the President of Germany and a politician of the Christian Democratic Union. He was elected President on 2010 and publicly swore the oath of office on . A lawyer by profession, he served as Premier of the state of Lower Saxony from 2003 to 2010.-Early life and...

.

Negotiations for release

Shalit's father had blamed the U.S. for blocking talks on his son's release.

Netanyahu responded to a pilgrimage march, called by Shalit's father for his release, by saying he was willing to release 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Shalit, but that top Hamas leaders would not be among those released.

In early 2011, Egyptian-moderated negotiations continued between the Israeli government and Hamas, represented by Ahmed Jabari. Haaretz
Haaretz
Haaretz is Israel's oldest daily newspaper. It was founded in 1918 and is now published in both Hebrew and English in Berliner format. The English edition is published and sold together with the International Herald Tribune. Both Hebrew and English editions can be read on the Internet...

reported that Israel proposed a prisoner swap, and threatened that if Hamas rejected the proposal, no swap would occur. Hamas responded by warning that an end to negotiations would lead to Shalit's "disappearance." Negotiations were hung up over disagreements between the two parties regarding Israel's unwillingness to release all of the so-called "senior prisoners" into the West Bank—a demand Hamas rejects—and regarding the particulars of releasing prisoners who were leaders of Hamas and other organizations.

On 11 October 2011, the Pan-Arabist Al Arabiya
Al Arabiya
Al Arabiya is a Pan-Arabist Saudi-owned Arabic-language television news channel. Launched on March 3, 2003, the channel is based in Dubai Media City, United Arab Emirates, and is majority-owned by the Saudi broadcaster Middle East Broadcasting Center ....

 network reported that Israel and Hamas had reached an agreement on Gilad Shalit. Netanyahu convened a special Cabinet meeting to approve the Shalit deal.

Shalit's release negotiations include the release of 1,027 Hamas and Palestinian prisoners by Israel.

Regarding the agreement, Gerald Steinberg, political science professor at Bar Ilan University and president of NGO Monitor
NGO Monitor
NGO Monitor is a non-governmental organization based in Jerusalem, Israel whose stated aim is to generate and distribute critical analysis and reports on the output of the international NGO community for the benefit of government policy makers, journalists, philanthropic organizations and the...

, said that the goal of Israel allowing the Egyptians to take an active part was "to help stabilize [Cairo], so they play a constructive role in the region. It's to show to other countries" as well, that Egypt is a "counterweight" to Turkey, with Israel showing preference to Egypt.

On 18 October 2011, he was transferred to Israel. The IDF transferred him, via helicopter, to the base in Tel-Nof, there he met his parents and the prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Benjamin Netanyahu
Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu is the current Prime Minister of Israel. He serves also as the Chairman of the Likud Party, as a Knesset member, as the Health Minister of Israel, as the Pensioner Affairs Minister of Israel and as the Economic Strategy Minister of Israel.Netanyahu is the first and, to...

. In the base he went through medical tests; it was found that he was malnourished and had a vitamin D
Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a group of fat-soluble secosteroids. In humans, vitamin D is unique both because it functions as a prohormone and because the body can synthesize it when sun exposure is adequate ....

 deficiency.

When the tests were done, he was then transferred by helicopter to his house where many people who supported his release waited outside of his house to see him coming back. He subsequently began to rehabilitate with IDF assistance.

Israeli society perceptions and activities

The vast majority of Israel's citizens are in favor of the deal, although a vocal minority opposes it, creating essentially two camps.

One camp supports the release of Shalit on Hamas's conditions. According to the Dahaf Polling Institute, 79 percent of Israelis favour this deal, which would include the release of over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners and the deportation of some of them outside the territory of the Palestinian National Authority
Palestinian National Authority
The Palestinian Authority is the administrative organization established to govern parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip...

 or restricting them to Gaza
Gaza
Gaza , also referred to as Gaza City, is a Palestinian city in the Gaza Strip, with a population of about 450,000, making it the largest city in the Palestinian territories.Inhabited since at least the 15th century BC,...

.

A second camp said that Shalit should be released, but not on Hamas's conditions. They argue that the correct approach is to protect Israelis if the prisoners are released. According to the Dahaf Polling Institute, 14 percent of Israelis are in this camp.

Others believe that the disagreement among Israelis represents rifts and changes within Israeli society. Attorney Dalia Gavriely-Nur, a lecturer at Bar-Ilan University
Bar-Ilan University
Bar-Ilan University is a university in Ramat Gan of the Tel Aviv District, Israel.Established in 1955, Bar Ilan is now Israel's second-largest academic institution. It has nearly 26,800 students and 1,350 faculty members...

, said that the camp opposing the prisoners deal is holding onto a view of collectivist society, in which the individual was expected to sacrifice himself for the good of society; the camp supporting the prisoner release is expressing, however, a high value on the sanctity of life, that symbolizes a shift to a more privatized society.
Noam Shalit, Gilad Shalit's father, urged the UN to take all possible measures to implement the findings of the Goldstone Report. The Goldstone Report called for the immediate release of Gilad Shalit and, while Shalit was in captivity, for access to him by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

On the evening of Shalit's 23rd birthday, on 28 August 2009, thousands of people attended a prayer rally for Gilad at the Western Wall
Western Wall
The Western Wall, Wailing Wall or Kotel is located in the Old City of Jerusalem at the foot of the western side of the Temple Mount...

, and dozens of activists protested outside Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv, slamming Defense Minister Ehud Barak
Ehud Barak
Ehud Barak is an Israeli politician who served as Prime Minister from 1999 until 2001. He was leader of the Labor Party until January 2011 and holds the posts of Minister of Defense and Deputy Prime Minister in Binyamin Netanyahu's government....

 and criticizing IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi
Gabi Ashkenazi
Gavriel "Gabi" Ashkenazi , was the Chief of General Staff of the Israel Defence Forces from 2007 to 2011.- Background and early life :...

.

Jewish Internet Defense Force
Jewish Internet Defense Force
The Jewish Internet Defense Force is an organization that uses social media to mobilize support for campaigns against websites and Facebook groups that promote or praise what it regards as Islamic terrorism or antisemitism. The group's website describes the JIDF as a private, independent,...

 (JIDF) organized in August 2009 a pro-Shalit campaign on the social networking site Twitter. Twitter users drove Shalit's name to the second-highest trend on the day of his 23rd birthday. Tweets for Shalit ranged from the demand "Free Shalit", to requests for international supervision of the case.
In several incidents during 2009, leaders of the campaign to free Shalit demonstrated at the prisons in which Palestinian detainees were held, preventing visits by Palestinian prisoners' families. One such demonstration at the Erez
Erez
Erez , is a kibbutz in south-western Israel. Located in the north-western Negev around 18 kilometres south of Ashkelon, it falls under the jurisdiction of Sha'ar HaNegev Regional Council. In 2006 it had a population of 333.-History:...

 crossing on the Gaza border blocked the passage of food and medicine to the Gaza Strip.
Israel said it would not ease its blockade of Gaza until Shalit was freed. The abducted soldier's long plight was extremely emotional issue within Israel, with large, tearful rallies on his birthdays and frequent media appearances by his father. Reflecting wide support for the cause, one Israeli TV anchor ended his daily newscast by mournfully reciting how many days the soldier has been held captive.

Israeli opponents of such a deal spoke out, warning that releasing top Palestinian militants could result in the deaths of many Israelis in renewed attacks, as well as increased Palestinian motivation to kidnap more soldiers in the future. Israeli analyst Dan Schueftan called the possible swap deal "the greatest significant victory for terrorism that Israel has made possible."

On 17 October 2011, The Jerusalem Post stated in an editorial:
No modern government has the legal right to free terrorists in exchange for its own kidnapped citizens, military or civilian. Under long-standing international law, every state has a primary obligation to protect its citizens. Yet it appears that tomorrow, Israel Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will exchange Palestinian terrorists for kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Schalit. Any such exchange, however humane to Schalit and his family, would imperil thousands of other Israelis.

Captivity

In early December 2008, during a Hamas rally in Gaza City to mark 21 years since its founding, a Hamas member masquerading as Shalit was paraded by Hamas militiamen. Hamas' refusal to negotiate about the status of Shalit or even to provide further information about his status strained the temporary Israel-Hamas cease-fire enacted in June 2008.
At the start of the Gaza War, Hamas claimed that Shalit had been wounded by Israeli fire. On 11 January 2009, Abu Marzuk, Deputy Chief of the Hamas Political Ministry, told the London-based Arabic daily Al-Hayat that:
"Shalit may have been wounded, and he may not have been. The subject no longer interests us. We are not interested in his well-being at all, and we are not giving him any special guard since he is as good as a cat or less."


On 22 January 2009, Israel indicated that it was willing to swap Palestinians held in Israeli jails for Shalit as part of a longer-term truce after the three-week military operation in Gaza. On 26 January 2009, it was reported that Israel was offering to free 1,000 prisoners in exchange for Shalit. On 16 March 2009, it was reported that a prisoner-swap deal to gain Shalit's release was close, and the negotiation team was urged to wrap up the deal. Israel agreed to release more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, but there were still disagreements over the number of prisoners. The negotiation team however deadlocked over the release of 450 "heavyweight" prisoners. According to a senior source in the PM's Office, "a deal cannot be finalized on such terms, and there's nothing to vote on [in the government session] Tuesday". In May 2009, President Shimon Peres
Shimon Peres
GCMG is the ninth President of the State of Israel. Peres served twice as the eighth Prime Minister of Israel and once as Interim Prime Minister, and has been a member of 12 cabinets in a political career spanning over 66 years...

 invited Shalit's family to meet Pope Benedict XVI at the President's residence in Jerusalem.

In June 2009, Israeli human rights group B'Tselem
B'Tselem
B'Tselem is an Israeli non-governmental organization . It calls itself "The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories"...

 published an ad in the West Bank
West Bank
The West Bank ) of the Jordan River is the landlocked geographical eastern part of the Palestinian territories located in Western Asia. To the west, north, and south, the West Bank shares borders with the state of Israel. To the east, across the Jordan River, lies the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan...

 Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds, calling on Hamas to release Shalit "immediately and unconditionally", but the Gaza-based daily Palestine refused to print it, according to a B'Tselem spokeswoman. In July 2009, Hamas TV in Gaza broadcast a short animated movie that depicted Shalit chained to a jail cell wall, pleading with a Palestinian boy to be set free. The boy refuses, saying he has relatives in Israeli prisons.

In July 2009, Noam Shalit, Gilad's father, testified before the Goldstone Committee, which was investigating on behalf of the United Nations illegal conduct by combatants during Gaza War. Shalit told the committee that his son has lived without human rights for three years, and that no one, including the Red Cross, knows what happened to him or has paid him a visit.

The Jerusalem Post reported that it obtained photographs showing children at the graduation ceremony of a Hamas-run summer camp
Summer camp
Summer camp is a supervised program for children or teenagers conducted during the summer months in some countries. Children and adolescents who attend summer camp are known as campers....

, reenacting Shalit's abduction. The photos were reported to show Osama Mazini
Osama Mazini
Osama Mazini is a senior political leader of Hamas, a Palestinian paramilitary and political organization with ties to the group's military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades....

, a senior Hamas political official in charge of the Shalit negotiations with Israel, attending the play.

On 30 September 2009, Israel announced that it would release 20 female Palestinian prisoners in exchange for a video proving Shalit was still alive. The video was attributed to intervention by Switzerland. The exchange took place successfully on 2 October.

Hamas turned over a 2-minute and 40-second video to Israel. Senior IDF officers, Defense Minister Ehud Barak
Ehud Barak
Ehud Barak is an Israeli politician who served as Prime Minister from 1999 until 2001. He was leader of the Labor Party until January 2011 and holds the posts of Minister of Defense and Deputy Prime Minister in Binyamin Netanyahu's government....

, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Benjamin Netanyahu
Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu is the current Prime Minister of Israel. He serves also as the Chairman of the Likud Party, as a Knesset member, as the Health Minister of Israel, as the Pensioner Affairs Minister of Israel and as the Economic Strategy Minister of Israel.Netanyahu is the first and, to...

 viewed the footage, after which Barak spoke to Gilad's father Noam and grandfather Zvi by telephone. The video was sent to the Shalit family home in Mitzpe Hila
Mitzpe Hila
Mitzpe Hila is a communal town in northern Israel. Located in the western Galilee hills near the Lebanese border, it falls under the jurisdiction of Ma'ale Yosef Regional Council. In 2006 it had a population of 572....

, with the family reportedly viewing it together. Members of the Israeli negotiating team for Shalit's release viewed the footage to ensure it met with Israel's demands, primarily with regard to how recently it was filmed. The video, the only contact from Shalit other than three letters written by him and an audio tape released in June 2007, was released to the public at around 4:00 in the afternoon on Israeli television. In the video, Shalit is seen sitting in a chair in a bare room, looking frail and emaciated but otherwise healthy. He addressed Netanyahu and his parents, and reminisced about times he spent with his family. At the end of the video, he stated that the "Mujahideen of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades
Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades
The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades is the military wing of the Palestinian Islamist fundamentalist socio-political organisation Hamas. Created in 1992, under the direction of Yahya Ayyash, the primary objective of the group was to build a coherent military organisation to support the goals of...

 are treating me very well". During the video, he held up a newspaper dated 14 September 2009.

Israel transferred 19 Palestinian women being held in Hadarim Prison near Netanya
Netanya
Netanya is a city in the Northern Centre District of Israel, and is the capital of the surrounding Sharon plain. It is located north of Tel Aviv, and south of Haifa between the 'Poleg' stream and Wingate Institute in the south and the 'Avichail' stream in the north.Its of beaches have made the...

 to the Ofer and Shikma detention facilities, ahead of their final release. As soon as it was determined that the video met Israel's demands, the detainees were released and turned over to Red Cross vehicles, which transported them to the West Bank. Another female prisoner was slated for release by the Israel Prison Service
Israel Prison Service
The Israel Prison Service , commonly known in Israel by its acronym Shabas , is the prison service of Israel. It is responsible for maintaining civilian prisons in Israel, as well as detention centers for security prisoners. It is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Public Security...

, but it was found that she had already been released for good behavior. Another female prisoner was then selected as her substitute, and released on 3 June.
In 2010, at least two cathedrals in Switzerland turned off their lights for several minutes in solidarity with Shalit. On the fourth anniversary of Shalit's abduction, the lights of the Colosseum
Colosseum
The Colosseum, or the Coliseum, originally the Flavian Amphitheatre , is an elliptical amphitheatre in the centre of the city of Rome, Italy, the largest ever built in the Roman Empire...

 were turned off. and so were the lights around the Old City
Old City
-Neighborhoods :*Old City , Azerbaijan*Old City *Old City *Old City , Pakistan*Old City Multan, Pakistan*Old City , Tennessee, United States*Old City, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States...

 walls in Jerusalem. A flotilla of ships, called The True Freedom Flotilla, sailed around the Statue of Liberty
Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty is a colossal neoclassical sculpture on Liberty Island in New York Harbor, designed by Frédéric Bartholdi and dedicated on October 28, 1886...

 and past the United Nations.

In late June 2010, Shalit's parents organized a march from Shalit's hometown to the Prime Minister's residence in Jerusalem, and were joined by 10,000 people. Shalit's parents stated that they would not go home until Gilad was freed. On the fifth day of the march, as it reached Hadera
Hadera
Hadera is a city located in the Haifa District of Israel approximately from the major cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa. The city is located along of the Israeli Mediterranean Coastal Plain...

, Israel agreed to a German-mediated prisoner exchange deal. Under the deal, Hamas would release Shalit, and Israel would release 1,000 Palestinian prisoners. However, Israel stated that the released Palestinians would be barred from entering the West Bank, since this location would afford them access to Israeli cities. Israel also refused to release "arch-terrorists" as part of the deal. Hamas responded by saying that the problem was with who Israel was willing to release, not how many. Hamas demanded that Israel release 450 prisoners jailed for violent attacks on Israelis, but Israel refused to agree to release most of them. In an address, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel was willing to pay a heavy price for Shalit, "but not any price". Shalit's grandfather Zvi called these comments a "death sentence" for Gilad. When a pro-Gilad Shalit release march entered Jerusalem on 8 July, it was met by a group of protesters holding signs "Gilad – Not at any cost" and "Don't give up to terror". The protesters had red ribbons on their hands symbolizing the blood of possible future terror victims resulting from any exchange in terrorists for Shalit's release. Those calling for Shalit's release included celebrities Bar Refaeli
Bar Refaeli
Bar Refaeli is an Israeli model and occasional actress, most known for her modeling work and for her relationship with American actor Leonardo DiCaprio. She was the cover model of the 2009 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.-Early life:...

 and Zubin Mehta
Zubin Mehta
Zubin Mehta is an Indian conductor of western classical music. He is the Music Director for Life of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.-Biography:...

.

In October 2010, Hamas officials claimed to have thwarted an attempt to locate Shalit. A collaborator in Hamas's military wing was caught planting bug
Bug
A bug is an insect of the order Hemiptera, known as the "true bugs".Bug or BUG may also refer to:-Biology:* Informally, most arthropods, except marine crustaceans, including individuals or species of** centipede** insect** millipede** mite...

s in two-way radios. Hamas leaders said the informer maintained relationships with top Hamas commanders, in order to learn where Shalit was being held.

At the end of November 2010, PA President Mahmoud Abbas called for Shalit to be released, comparing his situation to that of Arab prisoners held in Israeli prisons.

In June 2011, French President Nicolas Sarkozy
Nicolas Sarkozy
Nicolas Sarkozy is the 23rd and current President of the French Republic and ex officio Co-Prince of Andorra. He assumed the office on 16 May 2007 after defeating the Socialist Party candidate Ségolène Royal 10 days earlier....

 and German Chancellor Angela Merkel
Angela Merkel
Angela Dorothea Merkel is the current Chancellor of Germany . Merkel, elected to the Bundestag from Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, has been the chairwoman of the Christian Democratic Union since 2000, and chairwoman of the CDU-CSU parliamentary coalition from 2002 to 2005.From 2005 to 2009 she led a...

, at a joint press conference, issued a call for Shalit's release. This followed Shalit's father, Noam, filing a suit in France to investigate his son's kidnapping. Shalit is a dual citizen, also holding French citizenship.

Gilad Shalit prisoner swap deal

Five years and four months after Shalit was captured by Palestinian militants in southern Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, a deal was reached between Israel and Hamas
Hamas
Hamas is the Palestinian Sunni Islamic or Islamist political party that governs the Gaza Strip. Hamas also has a military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades...

 to release Shalit in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian and Israeli Arab prisoners. The deal was brokered by German and Egyptian mediators and signed in Egypt on 11 October 2011. Its first phase was executed on 18 October, with Israel releasing 450 Palestinian prisoners and Hamas transferring Shalit to Cairo
Cairo
Cairo , is the capital of Egypt and the largest city in the Arab world and Africa, and the 16th largest metropolitan area in the world. Nicknamed "The City of a Thousand Minarets" for its preponderance of Islamic architecture, Cairo has long been a centre of the region's political and cultural life...

.

Release

On 18 October 2011, Gilad Shalit was returned to Israel as part of the agreement with Hamas. The first 447 Palestinian prisoners were also freed and transferred as part of the exchange, the prisoners will also be exiled from Israeli territory.

Hundreds of Palestinians in Beituniyeh in the West Bank waved Hamas flags and chanted "We want a new Gilad Shalit".

Shortly after his release, on Oct. 24, 2011, President Shimon Peres
Shimon Peres
GCMG is the ninth President of the State of Israel. Peres served twice as the eighth Prime Minister of Israel and once as Interim Prime Minister, and has been a member of 12 cabinets in a political career spanning over 66 years...

 visited Shalit at his home in Mitzpe Hila
Mitzpe Hila
Mitzpe Hila is a communal town in northern Israel. Located in the western Galilee hills near the Lebanese border, it falls under the jurisdiction of Ma'ale Yosef Regional Council. In 2006 it had a population of 572....

 to congratulate him and wish him well. At this time, Peres called Shalit a hero, and said that he was proud of his ability "to withstand extremely difficult conditions in captivity." Noam Shalit thanked Peres for his efforts in obtaining Shalit's release. France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

's President Nicolas Sarkozy
Nicolas Sarkozy
Nicolas Sarkozy is the 23rd and current President of the French Republic and ex officio Co-Prince of Andorra. He assumed the office on 16 May 2007 after defeating the Socialist Party candidate Ségolène Royal 10 days earlier....

 sent a congratulatory letter to Gilad Shalit, mentioning France's role in pressuring Hamas to release him.

Location

The location in which Shalit was held is unknown. According to Israeli Home Front Defense Minister Matan Vilnai
Matan Vilnai
Matan Vilnai is an Israeli politician and a former Major General in the Israel Defense Forces . He is currently Minister for Home Front Defense and a member of the Knesset for Independence.-Biography:...

, even the leaders of Hamas did not know Shalit's exact whereabouts. Only a small group of militants knew where Shalit was being held, and most of them had been killed in IDF operations. According to Vilnai, "there is a very small group of people who are holding Gilad Shalit who know, and a large number of them are no longer with us".

Shortly after the kidnapping, locating Shalit became a top priority of Israeli intelligence, which soon received false information that he was being held in a fenced private residence on the outskirts of Gaza City. The information had been been planted by Hamas and Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

ian intelligence to lure the Israelis into raiding the booby-trapped
Booby trap
A booby trap is a device designed to harm or surprise a person, unknowingly triggered by the presence or actions of the victim. As the word trap implies, they often have some form of bait designed to lure the victim towards it. However, in other cases the device is placed on busy roads or is...

 house. Planning for a rescue operation was underway when Israeli intelligence learned of the plot.

In June 2007, Israeli media, citing Hamas sources, reported that Shalit was being held in the basement of a booby-trapped building near Rafah
Rafah
Rafah , also known as Rafiah, is a Palestinian city in the southern Gaza Strip. Located south of Gaza, Rafah's population of 71,003 is overwhelmingly made up of Palestinian refugees. Rafah camp and Tall as-Sultan form separate localities. Rafah is the district capital of the Rafah Governorate...

 in Gaza, and was being cared for by two kidnappers with whom he had established a cordial relationship. Shalit's living quarters were described as a two-room underground store with enough supplies for two weeks, accessible down a ladder through a 15-meter deep shaft lined with explosives. The report added that the kidnappers receive supplies and newspaper cuttings every two weeks, and that they had been ordered to take good care of Shalit.

In October 2009, Asharq Al-Awsat reported that a senior Israeli defense official had told the newspaper that Israel knew exactly where Shalit was being held, and was keeping the location under constant surveillance. The newspaper reported that Hamas was aware that Israel knew Shalit's location, and responded by booby-trapping the area, surrounding it with explosives in a 400–500 meter radius, and issuing a directive to kill Shalit if Israel mounted a military rescue operation.

In June 2011, the Kuwait
Kuwait
The State of Kuwait is a sovereign Arab state situated in the north-east of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south at Khafji, and Iraq to the north at Basra. It lies on the north-western shore of the Persian Gulf. The name Kuwait is derived from the...

i newspaper Al Jarida reported that Shalit had been transferred to a secret and secure location in Egypt ahead of an expected final deal. The newspaper quoted sources as saying that Shalit had been accompanied by Hamas commanders Ahmed Jabari and Mahmoud al-Zahar
Mahmoud al-Zahar
Mahmoud al-Zahar is a co-founder of Hamas and a member of the Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip. Since the formation of the Hamas/"Change and Reform" government in the Palestinian National Authority in March 2006, al-Zahar has served as foreign minister in the government of prime minister Ismail...

.

International law

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) repeatedly asked Hamas for permission to visit Shalit to ascertain his conditions of detention and treatment. Hamas refused the requests.

An ICRC representative said that under international humanitarian law Shalit is entitled to regular and unconditional contacts with his family.
On 25 June 2007, the Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem issued a statement saying "international humanitarian law absolutely prohibits taking and holding a person by force in order to compel the enemy to meet certain demands, while threatening to harm or kill the person if the demands are not met", and thus holding Shalit as a hostage
Hostage
A hostage is a person or entity which is held by a captor. The original definition meant that this was handed over by one of two belligerent parties to the other or seized as security for the carrying out of an agreement, or as a preventive measure against certain acts of war...

 to their demands is a war crime
War crime
War crimes are serious violations of the laws applicable in armed conflict giving rise to individual criminal responsibility...

. B'Tselem
B'Tselem
B'Tselem is an Israeli non-governmental organization . It calls itself "The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories"...

 also noted that denying access to ICRC visitations is also a violation of international law
International law
Public international law concerns the structure and conduct of sovereign states; analogous entities, such as the Holy See; and intergovernmental organizations. To a lesser degree, international law also may affect multinational corporations and individuals, an impact increasingly evolving beyond...

.

Israeli NGO Monitor
NGO Monitor
NGO Monitor is a non-governmental organization based in Jerusalem, Israel whose stated aim is to generate and distribute critical analysis and reports on the output of the international NGO community for the benefit of government policy makers, journalists, philanthropic organizations and the...

 said that Shalit's abductors breach several provisions of the Third Geneva Convention
Third Geneva Convention
The Third Geneva Convention, relative to the treatment of prisoners of war, is one of the four treaties of the Geneva Conventions. It was first adopted in 1929, but was significantly updated in 1949...

, e.g., the right to humane treatment (Art. 13); the right to have knowledge of a POW's location (Art. 23); and the right to unfettered access to the Red Cross (Art. 126).

Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch is an international non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. Its headquarters are in New York City and it has offices in Berlin, Beirut, Brussels, Chicago, Geneva, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, Paris, San Francisco, Tokyo,...

 also stated that Hamas authorities were obligated by the laws of war
Laws of war
The law of war is a body of law concerning acceptable justifications to engage in war and the limits to acceptable wartime conduct...

 to allow Shalit to correspond with his family, and noted that three letters and a voice recording cannot be counted as regular correspondence. HRW also called for him to receive visits from the ICRC, and said that the prolonged incommunicado detention of Shalit was cruel and inhumane and amounted to torture
Torture
Torture is the act of inflicting severe pain as a means of punishment, revenge, forcing information or a confession, or simply as an act of cruelty. Throughout history, torture has often been used as a method of political re-education, interrogation, punishment, and coercion...

.

A UN fact-finding mission headed by Judge Richard Goldstone
Richard Goldstone
Richard Joseph Goldstone is a South African former judge. After working for 17 years as a commercial lawyer, he was appointed by the South African government to serve on the Transvaal Supreme Court from 1980 to 1989 and the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of South Africa from 1990 to 1994...

 assigned to investigate the Gaza War, which released its Report
United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict
The United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, known as the Goldstone Report, was a team established in April 2009 by the United Nations Human Rights Council during the Gaza War as an independent international fact-finding mission to investigate alleged violations of international...

 in September 2009, called for Shalit to be released.

In June 2010, on the fourth anniversary of Shalit's kidnapping, Human Rights Watch made a statement describing Hamas' treatment of Shalit as "cruel and inhuman". saying it illustrates the UN definition of torture and violates the international rules of war by prohibiting him from having contact with his family or visits from the Red Cross.

Gerald Steinberg, president of "human rights watchdog NGO Monitor
NGO Monitor
NGO Monitor is a non-governmental organization based in Jerusalem, Israel whose stated aim is to generate and distribute critical analysis and reports on the output of the international NGO community for the benefit of government policy makers, journalists, philanthropic organizations and the...

", was quoted in October 2011 as saying that many human rights organizations, "such as the UN Human Rights Council, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network, Gisha, and the International Red Cross demonstrated very little interest" in the Shalit case.

Efforts to help Gilad Shalit

5th Anniversary Campaign (2011)

In June 2011, the Zionist Federation, among other organizations, stepped up a campaign to ensure that Shalit and his abduction are not forgotten, encouraging members and sympathizers to contact their local MP, MEP and to write letters to newspapers and to Shalit's family with words of support. This followed a two-week Gilad Shalit Awareness Campaign in February, organized by the Embassy of Israel alongside ten other community organizations.

Several prominent Israeli, Palestinian, and international human rights organizations issued a joint statement in June 2011 calling on Hamas to end its "illegal" and "inhumane" treatment of Shalit, including Amnesty International
Amnesty International
Amnesty International is an international non-governmental organisation whose stated mission is "to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights, and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated."Following a publication of Peter Benenson's...

, B'Tselem, Bimkom
Bimkom
Bimkom - Planners for Planning Rights is an Israeli non-profit organization established in May 1999 by planners and architects seeking to address human rights concerns in their spatial and urban designs. Bimkom's goals include retroactively legalizing illegal construction in Arab neighborhoods...

, Gisha
Gisha
Gisha , originally KEYSHA is a neighbourhood in Tehran, Iran. The neighborhood is known as a center for youth recreation, shopping, and dating...

, Human Rights Watch, Palestinian Center for Human Rights, Physicians for Human Rights
Physicians for Human Rights
Physicians for Human Rights was founded in 1986 by a small group of doctors who believed the unique scientific expertise and authority of health professionals could bring human rights violations to light and provide justice for victims...

, Public Committee Against Torture in Israel
Public Committee Against Torture in Israel
The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel is an Israeli human rights organisation specifically dedicated to combating torture, and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment and punishment...

, Rabbis for Human Rights
Rabbis for Human Rights
Rabbis for Human Rights-Israel is an Israeli human rights organisation describing itself as "the rabbinic voice of conscience in Israel, giving voice to the Jewish tradition of human rights"....

, The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Yesh Din
Yesh Din
Yesh Din is an Israeli human rights group providing legal assistance to citizens of the Palestinian territories. Its name comes from a Hebrew phrase meaning “there is law”...

; though Noah Pollak, writing in Commentary
Commentary (magazine)
Commentary is a monthly American magazine on politics, Judaism, social and cultural issues. It was founded by the American Jewish Committee in 1945. By 1960 its editor was Norman Podhoretz, a liberal at the time who moved sharply to the right in the 1970s and 1980s becoming a strong voice for the...

, noted that the statement did not call for the release of Shalit.

A protest was also held in August 2011 outside Benjamin Netanyahu's office to mark Shalit's sixth birthday in captivity. Gilad Shalit's father Noam also spoke at the social justice protest in Tel Aviv.

Gilad Shalit Worldwide Tehillim Project

The Gilad Shalit Worldwide Tehillim Project
was established to support the reciting of Tehillim (Psalms)
Psalms
The Book of Psalms , commonly referred to simply as Psalms, is a book of the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Bible...

 for Gilad Shalit. The goal is to have all of Tehillim recited daily.

Paris, France

On 16 December 2008, Shalit was named an honorary citizen of Paris, France, after Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoë
Bertrand Delanoë
Bertrand Delanoë is a French politician, and has been the mayor of Paris since 2001. He is member of the Socialist Party . Delanoë was born in Tunis, Tunisia to a French-Tunisian father and a French mother...

 and the City Council unanimously voted to give the title to Shalit. The group Collective Freedom for Gilad praised the decision, stating "it is with immense joy that we have welcomed the news, which shows how well the French state is mobilized at every level to make it possible for a young man to regain his freedom and family". The French town of Raincy also named Shalit an honorary citizen, and the Grenoble
Grenoble
Grenoble is a city in southeastern France, at the foot of the French Alps where the river Drac joins the Isère. Located in the Rhône-Alpes region, Grenoble is the capital of the department of Isère...

 City Hall hung his photo on their building facade the week of 10 December 2008.

Rome, Italy

During a public menorah-lighting ceremony on 21 December 2008, Gianni Alemanno, the Mayor of Rome, Italy, said that a proposal by Rome Jewish Community President Riccardo Pacifici (the grandson of Riccardo Reuven Pacifici
Riccardo Pacifici
Riccardo Reuven Pacifici was a rabbi from an Italian Jewish family of ancient Sephardic origins, with roots in the Jewish Spanish and rabbinical traditions.-Life:...

) to make Shalit an honorary citizen of Rome was "an excellent idea." Alemanno added that he wanted to extend the honor "to give a sign of solidarity to the Jewish community." On 16 April 2009, during a formal evening celebrating Israel's 60th anniversary, Alemanno announced that the city declared Shalit an honorary citizen. Alemanno said that the Shalit affair does not concern the State of Israel alone, but the whole of humanity. On 1 July 2009, Alemanno conferred the honor to Shalit at a ceremony and presented a parchment declaration to Shalit's father, Noam. Alemanno said that making Shalit an honorary citizen was "a gesture of high symbolic value, with which Rome chooses to salute the values of life, of solidarity and of respect for the human rights." He added, "You cannot win using violence, kidnapping and ransom."

Miami, FL, US

On 23 April 2009, Shalit was made an honorary citizen of Miami. The move was announced during a municipality council meeting, which also approved a bill declaring Israel's Independence Day as "Israel Day" in Miami.

New Orleans, LA, US

The city of New Orleans made Shalit an honorary citizen on 25 June 2009, the third anniversary of his capture.

Baltimore, MD, US

The city of Baltimore
Baltimore
Baltimore is the largest independent city in the United States and the largest city and cultural center of the US state of Maryland. The city is located in central Maryland along the tidal portion of the Patapsco River, an arm of the Chesapeake Bay. Baltimore is sometimes referred to as Baltimore...

 made Shalit an honorary citizen on 29 June 2011, the fifth anniversary of his capture.

Pittsburgh, PA, US

The city of Pittsburgh made Shalit an honorary citizen on 30 August 2011, in honor of his twenty fifth birthday.

See also

  • Israeli MIAs
    Israeli MIAs
    Israeli MIA are members of the Israel Defense Forces who are missing in action. Despite efforts to locate them and bring them home, their whereabouts remain unknown...


Israeli POWs
  • Nachshon Wachsman
  • Pidyon Shvuyim
    Pidyon Shvuyim
    The Mitzvah of Pidyon Shvuyim is to bring about the release of any Jew held captive by gentiles. It is considered an important commandment in the Jewish Halakha.- Source :...

  • Ron Arad
    Ron Arad (pilot)
    Lieutenant Colonel Ron Arad , was an Israeli Air Force weapon systems officer who is officially classified as missing in action since October 1986, but is widely presumed dead...

  • Azzam Azzam
    Azzam Azzam
    Azzam Azzam is an Israeli Druze who was convicted in Egypt of spying for Israel, and jailed for eight years. He maintained his innocence throughout the ordeal, and since, no credible evidence was presented at his trial, and no additional evidence was ever released.-Arrest and trial:Azzam is a...

  • Ilan Grapel
    Ilan Grapel affair
    The Ilan Grapel affair was an alleged Israeli espionage incident in Egypt involving dual U.S.-Israeli citizen Ilan Grapel. On 12 June 2011, Egyptian authorities arrested Grapel on charges of fomenting unrest in Egypt as a Mossad agent in the wake of the 2011 Egyptian revolution...

  • Ouda Tarabin
    Ouda Tarabin
    Ouda Tarabin is an Israeli Bedouin. On 2000, The Egyptians arrested 19 year old Israeli Ouda Tarabin after he illegally crossed the border from Israel...


External links

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