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Israeli soldier Shalit arrives in Israel: army

Gilad Shalit's return to Israel marks the first time in 26 years that a captured soldier has been brought back alive to the Jewish state

AFP , Tuesday 18 Oct 2011
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Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who has been held in captivity in Gaza for over five years, has arrived back in Israel, chief army spokesman Brigadier General Yoav Mordechai said on Tuesday.

"Gilad has returned home," he told a press conference at the Kerem Shalom border crossing, which was broadcast live on Israeli TV and radio stations.

"At this moment, Shalit is walking into territory of the State of Israel," he said.

"Gilad Shalit returned to his country, his homeland, and his family."

"Right now, Shalit is being... taken to the nearby Amitai base. In the base, he'll undergo initial medical checks, and will have a phone call with his family," he said.

Shortly before the announcement, Egyptian state TV released the first footage of Shalit in which he could be seen emerging from a vehicle and being accompanied by Egyptian and Hamas officials.

Shalit has been held by militants in Gaza for more than five years and his return to Israel triggered the release of a first trance of 477 Palestinian prisoners.

The swap agreement, which was signed between Israel and Hamas last week, involves the release of a total of 1,027 Palestinians in what will be the highest price-ever paid for the release of one person.

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