Gilad Shalit Release Is Testament to Parental Love

The release of young Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit may look a lot like the Amanda Knox case in many ways -- an international scandal that involves far more than just a single prisoner with a young person at the center. But the Shalit family had it far, far worse than the Knox family. They knew all along that their child was in a hostile environment with almost no outside communication.

And soon, Shalit, who was just 19 when militants tunnelled under the border with Israel into an army base and seized him in June 2006, will be free.

Israel has been in negotiations for his release for five years, and in that time, Shalit has become a national symbol in Israel -- everyone's son, according to The New York Times. But, in fact, Shalit was only one couple's son and Noam and Aviva Shalit have fought tirelessly to free him.


Though similar deals for his release have been negotiated before but fallen through at the last minute, this one looks like it will really happen. The exchange is big. Israel is expected to release hundreds of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails. But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was finally able to call the Shalit family with good news.

Netanyahu told the country that when he spoke to the Shalit family, he said: "I'm bringing your son home."

As a mom, I can't even imagine what Aviva Shalit must have felt at hearing those words she has prayed to hear for years. The Shalits have worked tirelessly for this day since their son was taken. They've marched for days with many others marching alongside in solidarity. They've spent days and nights camped in a tent near Netanyahu's home to draw attention to their son. They've never been content to be quiet even when communication became incredibly scarce.

In the six years he has been missing, the only correspondence has been three letters, an audio tape, and a DVD that only came after Israel released 20 prisoners.

For Israel, the deal is mixed, obviously. More than 1,000 prisoners will be released in the exchange and they're likely still dangerous to Israeli citizens. But one mom gets her son back.

As Noam Shalit said:

The protest tent has finished its role and it's time to fold up and head home ... As far as we are concerned, the matter will be closed when we see Gilad arrive home, walk down the stairs into the house, then we can say the circle has been closed.

Whatever comes after, at least one family is reunited and Shalit will know that his parents never gave up hope. They never stopped pushing for their son's release and they were never content to just sit back and wait.

It's a true testament to the power of parental love. It moved a whole nation.

Do you think this was a smart exchange for Israel?


Image via YouTube

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