Gilad Shalit was a 19-year-old IDF corporal when he was kidnapped by Hamas while guarding the border with Gaza.
The second of three children, he was born to Aviva and Noam Shalit on 28 August 1986 and grew up in Mizpe Hila in the Western Galilee.
As a teenager he did well at school, excelling in maths and sports. After leaving school he followed in the footsteps of his brother Yoel and joined the Israeli armored corps.
He had been in the army less than a year when he was taken, early on a Sunday morning. Shalit survived the border raid, while two other soldiers were wounded. He was taken by Hamas terrorists and has been held by them ever since.
Efforts to secure his release by Israel and members of the international community have so far been unsuccessful. However a year after his capture audio footage was released by Hamas proving that he was still alive, followed by video footage in October 2009.
Shalit is one of several Israelis who are known as the MIAs – the Missing in Action soldiers. They include Zachary Baumel, Yehuda Katz and Zvi Feldman (missing since 1982), Ron Arad (taken in October 1986, when Gilad was less than two months old), Guy Hever (kidnapped in 1997) and Majdy Halabi (missing since 2005).
Two more soldiers were kidnapped by terrorists in summer 2006 – Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev were abducted by Hizbollah on July 12. Two years later, their bodies were returned to Israel as part of a prisoner exchange.
This summer, Shalit's family will mark his 25th birthday in captivity.