After 1,940 days in Hamas custody, captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit is in Israel this morning, surrounded by the army and with his family and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (here’s his statement). Meanwhile, buses containing Palestinian prisoners being released by Israel in exchange for Shalit’s freedom have started flowing into Ramallah, in the West Bank, where a celebration was already underway.
The only blip in the exchange was Shalit’s appearance in a brief, English-language interview on an Egyptian television network. He seems relatively healthy (you know, considering) if extremely tired, and at one point the interviewer and his translator got into a fight over the fact that Shalit was tired and should be let go. Indeed, the interview strikes this viewer as idiotic, borderline sadistic; it also was pretty clearly put together to trumpet Egypt’s involvement in brokering the deal. It is appalling. The original plan had it that Shalit would be in Egypt for under 15 minutes, and there was no mention of a TV interview. If it turns out Israel did not accede to the TV appearance, whoever forced it upon a soldier who had been in captivity for more than five years deserves all the trouble that’s coming to him. [UPDATE: An Israeli official told the AP, “We are all shocked that a so-called interview was forced on [Shalit].”]
Still, most importantly, Gilad is back. Here he is emerging at an air base in central Israel:
Gilad Shalit Reunited With Family at IDF Base Following Return to Israel [Haaretz]
WATCH: Egypt TV Despicable Interview With Gilad Shalit [Forecast Highs]
Hamas Frees Israeli Soldier as Prisoner Swap Begins [NYT]
Israeli Soldier Is Freed in Prisoner Swap [WSJ]
Hamas and Israel Exchange Prisoners [Al Jazeera]