I am ecstatic that Gilad has finally been released and is home with his family, thank G-d alive and well.
As well as he could be under the circumstances; Hamas are capable of anything, so the fact that Gilad is alive and in good physical and mental condition is nothing short of a miracle. The symptoms of malnutrition and lack of sunlight is probably the best anyone could have dared hope for.
In the first stage, Gilad was taken to Egypt where he was forced into a torturous interview on Egyptian TV. His sharp breathing and discomfort were there for everyone to see, although it was only later that we found out there were actually armed Hamas men in the room with him. On top of that, the interview was interpreted wrongly, and of course the mainstream media repeated this false translation. When asked how he felt, Gilad replied "I don't feel so well", but this was translated as "I feel good". Asked if he would campaign for the release of other Palestinian prisoners, he said yes, as long as they stop attacking Israel, but was quoted as simply saying he'd be happy for them to go back to their families.
After that Gilad was turned over to Israeli care, where he underwent medical check ups,changed into an army uniform, and was then flown to meet Netanyahu, who took him to bereunited with his family, after which Gilad and his family were then all flown back to their homein the North of Israel.
Hundreds of Palestinian terrorists were released in exchange, some to Egypt, the rest to the West Bank and Gaza, where Hamas announced in a massive ceremony that they would continue trying to capture Israeli soldiers so they could use them to get more terrorists freed. Some media were bizarrely optimistic that the fact that Israel had to communicate with Hamas for the deal was a step forward that means they could negotiate in the future as well (?!).
Despite this, like I said previously, I still believe Israel made the right decision. Leftist critics of the deal though, have a strange logic. They complain about the "message" that one Israeli is worth 1000 Palestinians, and one Guardian reader even said "The Palestinians should have operated on a one to one exchange basis"! Can Israel do nothing right!
Jerusalem Post highlights several Jewish religious perspectives on the issue: "The Mishna prohibits redeeming captives 'for more than their monetary value' to foster 'society’s welfare' [tikkun olam]", whether literally an large ransom sum, or the cost by encouraging future kidnappings.
On the other hand,:
"Maimonides (1135-1204) states: 'There is no commandment as great as the redemption of captives.
"And Rabbi Yosef Karo (1488-1575), in his Shulhan Arukh, notes: 'Each instant that one fails to redeem captives when it is possible to do so, it is as though one has shed blood.'Meanwhile "Shas mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef has argued that in cases such as Shalit’s, the clear and present danger to the life of the hostage outweighs the potential danger to Israelis who might become the future targets of the freed terrorists."
Adrian Blomfield of the Telegraph discusses why so many Israelis supported the deal, despite the security risks and the political cost of bolstering Hamas. He quotes Avi Shavit of Haaretz, that:
"Israel's main asset in human and security terms is the sense of mutual responsibility that its citizens and soldiers feel towards one another. Without this feeling, there is no meaning to our lives here. Without this feeling, we have neither army, security, nor the ability to protect ourselves.
"Rightly or not, Shalit has become a symbol of mutual responsibility. And therefore his forthcoming release will not only be the redemption of a captive and the saving of a life and the return home of a son. Shalit's release will be the realisation of Israeli solidarity."
JPost sums it up perfectly:
"This collective willingness to expose ourselves to the risk of a future terrorist attack, if necessary, to secure Shalit’s release speaks volumes about Israelis’ strong sense that we are all in this Zionist project together, in good times and in bad.
It’s not that we are insensitive to the feelings of past terrorist victims’ families and loved ones. Nor are we unaware that many, even most, of those who will be released will return to violent terrorism – and that by paying a ratio of 1 to 1,027 we are encouraging future kidnappings.
It’s just that none of these potential future dangers seems to be able to trump the fact that right now an IDF soldier’s life is being saved."
The past can't be changed and the future can't be predicted with absolute certainty, so I, like many, believe it was most important to focus on the present, and support whatever had to be done to save Gilad. And we did.