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Gilad Shalit arrives at home in northern Israel

(Xinhua)

09:10, October 19, 2011

JERUSALEM, Oct. 18 (Xinhua) -- Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier that has been held by Hamas since 2006, arrived at his home in the northern Israeli village of Mitzpe Hila.

After reunited with his family and met with Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu at the Tel Nof Air Base in central Israel, Shalit boarded an army helicopter and went home.

Upon disembarking from the helicopter that flew him to the Tel Nof base, he paused to salute Netanyahu and was greeted with a hug from the prime minister, with Defense Minister Ehud Barak and army chief Benny Gantz standing by to greet the soldier.

Looking thin and pale, Shalit, dressed in a military uniform, was then taken to a room at the base for a first meeting with his parents, Noam and Aviva, who led a massive public campaign for their son's release over the years.

After meeting Shalit, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a press conference Shalit's release from Hamas captivity confronted him with one of the toughest decisions he ever had to make.

"On this day, we are all united in both joy and pain," Netanyahu said.

"Two years and a half ago, I returned to my post as prime minister. One of the main and most complicated missions I found on my desk was to bring Gilad Shalit home alive and well. Today, that mission has been accomplished," Netanyahu said.


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