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August 28, 2012 11:47 am

Gilad Shalit Celebrates First Birthday as a Free Man Since Hamas Capture

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From left to right, New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Gilad Shalit (holding a crystal "Big Apple" in a Tiffany's box), and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg in New York City Hall on June 25, the sixth anniversary of the day Hamas captured Shalit. Photo: Maxine Dovere.

Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier who was kidnapped by Hamas in 2006, turns 26 today, celebrating his first birthday since being freed from captivity.

In an interview with Army Radio in Israel, Shalit’s grandfather said that a celebration will be held over the weekend with close family in attendance.

Zvi Shalit, Gilad’s grandfather, said he’s “glad that Gilad has returned to a normal life. We are celebrating Gilad’s birthday on Sunday with parts of his closest family and wish him good luck.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, called Shalit on Tuesday, wishing him well “on this especially happy birthday of freedom”.

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According to Shalit’s grandfather, Gilad is expecting to return to school next year, however he is undecided on what he will study.

Shalit was released in October of 2011 in exchange for 1027 Palestinian prisoners.

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