Gilad Shalit's father speaks after emotional reunion

By Jessica Elgot, October 18, 2011
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Gilad Shalit with Ehud Barak, Benjamin Netanyahu and his father Noam

Gilad Shalit with Ehud Barak, Benjamin Netanyahu and his father Noam

Gilad Shalit's father Noam has describing meeting his son for the first time in more than five years.

He said: "Today, it feels like my son has been reborn."

Mr Shalit told the assembled press in his home town of Mitzpe Hila what it was like to bring his son home. "He came down the stairs, into the house, and through the door he left so long ago.

"Gilad is feeling well, he has a few light wounds which have not been treated well, some are shrapnel wounds, and he has also had a lack of sunlight. But he is just very happy to be home.

He said his son would not be coming out to greet the press or his supporters. "Obviously he finds it hard to be exposed to a big crowd after being alone and isolated for so many days and years.

"He did not communicate with anyone in his own language, he only spoke to kidnappers or guards. We hope he can be rehabilitated as quick as possible with the help of the IDF. We hope he can go back to normal life.

"The pilot of the chopper flew us over the town and Gilad looked down and waved at everyone. He saw the support he was getting along the roads.

He thanked the solidarity movement, the activists in Mitzpe Hila, the IDF and IAF and the Israeli government and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He said the decision to free more than 1000 Palestinian prisoners was "not easy."

He added: "I feel for the bereaved families, we do understand their pain and the price paying for Gilad's freedom."

He said the family had sat down together for a meal and his son had discussed a ittle of what he went through in captivity. "He could listen to the radio, he had some TV, mostly Arabic TV stations. We didn't ask for him for much, we just sat together, and he has not said much so far. But he did say that at the beginning he was treated very badly, but it had got better in last few years."

Last updated: 6:02pm, October 18 2011