JERUSALEM (JTA) — Gilad Shalit thanked those who campaigned for his release from Hamas captivity.
Shalit’s parents convened hundreds of supporters Saturday in Kibbutz Shfayim to celebrate the Israeli ex-conscript’s Oct. 18 release in a prisoner swap with the Palestinians.
Gilad Shalit did not attend the event, with representatives saying that after more than five years of isolation in Gaza, he was still not ready to face crowds.
But in a video address to the activists, Shalit, looking healthier and more composed than when he went free, thanked the activists for their demonstrations, vigils, petitions and media campaigns in Israel and abroad.
"While I was in captivity, I heard a lot about your enlistment for my release," he said. "I know without a doubt that your long and continuous struggle for my release, each according to his ability, the diligence and support for my family over the long road, were one of the decisive factors in the decision to return me home.
"I am grateful to you all, and each individually, and will continue to be grateful for all the days of my life."
View the video (Hebrew) here: http://news.walla.co.il/?w=/9/1884067.