NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — After spending five years in a Hamas prison, kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit returned home Tuesday as part of a historic prisoner exchange.
Many people across the globe, including those in New York City, were reacting to the news Tuesday afternoon.
Shalit was captured over 1,900 days ago, when he was just 19 years old. Earlier Tuesday, the now 25-year-old embraced his father on Israeli soil.
1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria With Reaction From Riverdale
Hamas militants turned Shalit over to Israel in exchange for more than a thousand Palestinian prisoners, many of whom were also greeted by the embrace of family members.
“I hope this day will help achieve peace between the Palestinian and Israeli sides,” Shalit said through a translator.
Shoshi, the owner of Israeli grocery store HaMakolet on Riverdale Avenue in the Bronx, said as a mother, she is thrilled Gilad Shalit is free. She said it didn’t matter how many Palestinian prisoners had to be released.
“It doesn’t matter — even they can give them a million. Just get one person, you know, one solider home. It’s fine with me,” she told 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria.
Shoshi said Jewish mothers give their sons to the Israeli army with the promise to get them home and that’s what was accomplished.
Cantor Chaim Dubin says it may appear that it was a lopsided trade if you think of it logically, but he said the Israelis thought with their hearts.
“Their hearts so go out to Gilad and his family that we just had to do it,” he said.
Others also agreed with that sentiment.
“On the emotional level, I think it was a good deal,” one man said. “It was a very hard decision for the government. You know, you have to take into account what the population wants and also the family of the solider.”
Shalit looked pale, malnourished and gaunt — almost skeletal by some descriptions. He underwent a physical by Israeli Defense Force doctors.
Shalit was transferred to the care of the representatives of the IDF Personnel Directorate, and has undergone an initial medical examination by medical personnel. They confirmed that he is in stable health.
The first 477 released Palestinian prisoners began crossing over into Gaza Tuesday.
Another 550 will be released in two months. Some of the men and women had been in Israeli prisons for decades, and most if not all, were serving out life sentences for killing Israelis before the prisoner swap was finalized.
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