A school-age chum of Gilad Shalit is actually living in my home right now. Lior is the nephew by marriage of an Israeli cousin of mine.
|Gilad Shalit (photo released by IDF)
Lior describes Shalit as shy and a bit of an oddball, who “hung out” with Lior’s circle of friends, a year or two older than he. When rumors would fly of efforts to free Gilad, Lior would discuss these with friends & family via Skype.
There’s a lot more that can be said on this, of course. For example, the diverse reasons that so many Palestinians have been imprisoned, some justly and others not: from participating in heinous mass murders to offenses that should not be cause for imprisonment, e.g., merely being a member of Hamas. (This NY Times article is about the serious crimes committed by some of the freed Palestinian prisoners.)
And there has to be the disappointment that some of us feel for the fact that Marwan Barghouti, the militant Fatah leader convicted for organizing terror attacks, is apparently excluded from the list of prisoners to be exchanged. His imprisonment is not without reason: he was the leader of the Tanzim militia that morphed into the Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades, which competed with Hamas and Islamic Jihad to commit murderous attacks on random Israelis, even within Israel’s Green Line borders. But he is also thought of by many (including leaders of the Meretz party who have known him for years) as a plausible successor to Mahmoud Abbas and a credible partner for peace with Israel. That a convicted murderer should be thought of as being a “moderate” is maddening, but this surely reflects the crazy reality that Israel inhabits.
Finally, here (courtesy of Lilly Rivlin) is a link to the Jerusalem Post article by Gershom Baskin, the tireless Israeli peace activist, on his role in securing Shalit’s release.