Former kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit met 50 lone soldiers in Jerusalem on Thursday and told them they were “courageous and admirable”.
Lone soldiers are young men and women who have made aliyah from countries all over the world without their families and joined the army.
Mr Shalit met a group of lone soldiers, played table tennis and pool with them and expressed his support for the choice they had made.
“I admire each one of you for what you are doing for our country,” he said. “Your decision to leave your families and friends and make aliyah on your own and join the army is truly courageous and admirable,” he said.
“Although you are far from your own families, you are not alone: we are all one family and are here to support you and make you feel most welcome as Israeli citizens."
Mr Shalit met the lone soldiers at the office of Nefesh B’Nefesh, an organisation that along with the Friends of the IDF provides support to the soldiers while adjusting to their new life in Israel.