Breaking news -

0 Australian Zionist Community Celebrate Gilad Shalit’s release

THERE were tears and cheers on Tuesday night as more than 1500 members of the Jewish community and their supporters gathered at locations in Melbourne and Sydney to watch Gilad Shalit finally return to Israel after over five years in captivity.


The release of the soldier, who had been held hostage by Hamas in Gaza for 1941 days, brought to a close one of the most painful chapters in the Jewish State’s history.
But while Gilad’s parents embraced their son and campaigners across the globe cheered and sobbed as they watched live feeds of his return, emotional wounds were reopened for the families of hundreds of Israeli terror victims who had opposed the release of 1027 convicted Palestinian terrorists in order to secure his release.

The initial 477 pardoned prisoners were bussed to Gaza and the West Bank throughout the day. Israel has promised to release an additional 550 Palestinian prisoners in the coming months as part of the deal.
“Citizens of Israel, today we are all united in joy and in pain,” Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said, opening a short address acknowledging the bittersweet character of the exchange at a press conference at Tel Nof Air Force Base in central Israel.
Earlier, Shalit, who had been been transferred from Gaza over to Israel via Egyptian intermediaries in the Sinai, was flown by helicopter to the base.
In images and video released throughout the day, Shalit appeared malnourished, pale and weak. In a television interview that Shalit was apparently coerced to do for Egyptian television during the transfer process, the 25-year-old appeared lucid but suffering from emotional trauma.
Once back on Israeli soil, however, Shalit’s demeanour rapidly improved.
In an iconic moment captured on film, Shalit, who had reportedly asked to change back into his IDF uniform immediately upon his arrival in Israel, smartly saluted the Prime Minister.
It was also there, at Tel Nof, where Shalit enjoyed an emotional reunion with his parents, Noam and Aviva, who had devoted their lives in the five years since their son’s capture to marshalling support for his release.
Following an intensive examination by IDF doctors, Shalit was flown to his home village of Mitzpe Hila, where the streets had been lined with flower petals and signs in his honour.
With the protection of the Israeli police, who sealed off the town to protect the Shalit family’s privacy, Shalit entered his home, and thus began a new count of days for the freed soldier – that of the rest of his life as a private citizen.
In Melbourne, hundreds of people crowded into Beth Weizmann for an event organised by the Zionist Council of Victoria.
The gathering, which began in suspense with anxious faces and hushed whispers, eased as it became apparent Shalit was alive, and able to walk and talk without much difficulty.
Every new piece of good news reported elicited spontaneous applause from the community, which reached its apex when Israeli media reported Shalit was confirmed to be back on Israeli soil.
As photos and video images of the soldier were broadcast, many viewers hugged and were moved to tears.
Among the political personalities in attendance were MP for Caulfied David Southwick, his predecessor Helen Shardey, and MP for Isaacs Mark Dreyfus.
At the same moment, at Central Synagogue in Sydney, approximately 1000 people were riding the same emotional roller-coaster, at an event organised by the Zionist Council of NSW.
Children as young as five joined grandparents as the community gathered as one to watch the live feed from Israeli television.
Zionist Council of NSW honorary life president Ron Weiser addressed the gathering and said it was a special night for Jewish people across the world.
“There are some moments in which people remember exactly where they were, and this is one of those moments this evening,” Weiser said.
Zionist Federation of Australia president Philip Chester said Shalit’s release is a testament to the values of the State of Israel and the commitment to take care of every single soldier. “The Australian Zionist community has been campaigning for Gilad’s release and raising awareness about his plight since he was abducted,” Chester said.

Yes I'm sure the survivors of the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty remember ...

No comments: