Gilad Shalit marks first birthday since his release

By Jennifer Lipman, August 28, 2012
Gilad Shalit meets Benjamin Netanyahu on the day of his release

Gilad Shalit meets Benjamin Netanyahu on the day of his release

The Israeli prime minister has wished Gilad Shalit well on his first birthday since he was freed.

It is nearly a year since Sergeant Shalit was brought back to Israel in a prisoner exchange, after more than five years as a captive of Hamas terrorists.

Last summer, when he turned 25, campaigners marked the date with appeals to the international community to bring him home. It was the Israeli soldier's sixth birthday as a prisoner; he was kidnapped when he was just 19 while he was guarding the Gaza border.

His parents, Noam and Aviva, wrote an open letter to their son on his birthday stating that they would not forget him or stop fighting for his safe homecoming.

A year on, his 26th birthday is a much happier occasion. Benjamin Netanyahu posted a photograph on his social media pages showing him on the phone wishing Sergeant Shalit a joyous day "on this especially happy birthday of freedom".

Earlier this week, Homeland actress Claire Danes told Jewish news site Algemeiner that she had met the former captive while filming the hit prisoner of war series in Israel.

"He went through, you know, an unimaginable experience and there's no way to address it in a fleeting moment like that," she said. "It was a great, great honour and I was surprised to meet him."

Last updated: 2:07pm, August 28 2012