On June 25th, 2006 a young, 19 year old conscript in the Israeli Army was kidnapped by terrorists. Gilad Shalit was on Israeli territory when Hamas terrorists stole him away from his home, family and country.
For the following 5 years Gilad's family and country fought incredibly hard to bring him home. With massive protests, active social media networks and relentless press coverage, Israel never forgot her missing son. In synagogues around the world, a weekly prayer was added to the shabbat morning service beseeching Gd for his safe return.
This morning our prayers were answered. At an incredible price.
Israel freed hundreds of the most vile terrorists mankind has ever known. These monsters planned and executed attacks on families, women, the elderly and children. I witnessed a few of these attacks first hand. In a country of 7.5 million, everyone is connected to everyone. The decision to free hundreds of these monsters and allow them to escape justice was not a simple one. Everyone knows someone who was victimized in body, mind or spirit by these monsters. Israel set them over one thousand of these criminals free, all for one of their own. This is the value Israel and Jews around the world place on one of our own.
We have no idea what physical or mental state Gilad will be in. But we know that he is home. Over the past few days I saw people smiling, hugging and crying on the streets while watching the television news. Egged, one of the major bus companies, is running ads on buses welcoming Gilad home. The atmosphere here is electric.
While the fear of what these monsters will do once they are on the loose is in the back of everyone's minds, today is a day to celebrate. After 5 long years, our brother, our son is coming home. Welcome home Gilad Shalit.