Gilad Shalit, the IDF soldier released on October 18 after five years of captivity in Gaza met today with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, at the Elysee Palace.
Gilad was accompanied by his parents Noam and Aviva Shalit who will also be guests of honor at the annual Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions (CRIF) dinner on Wednesday night. Gilad himself will not attend the dinner as according to his family, because “his health does not permit it.”
For the most part, the freed soldier has been keeping a low profile – exceptions including an appearance at a Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball game and opening a Facebook account.
Shalit was released in October after five years in Hamas captivity in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners. Nicolas Sarkozy had tried to get him released and met with Noam and Aviva numerous times over the years. Gilad is a French citizen through his parents and Sarkozy had even called him “son of France.”
In January Shalit sent a letter in which he thanked Sarkozy and the French people for the efforts they made along the years to speed up his release and the support they gave him and his family.
“I want to thank you with all my heart for the unlimited support you have given me and your ongoing efforts to bring about my release,” the letter stated.
“Mr President, I’m aware of your great contribution to my release. I shall be forever grateful for that extraordinary, firm and uncompromising commitment,” Shalit wrote.
Shalit added that he felt grateful and proud to learn that Sarkozy defended him as the “son of France.”