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March 31, 2022 8:43 am
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Father of Former Hamas Captive Gilad Shalit Dies at 68

avatar by i24 News

Gilad Shalit salutes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after prisoner exchange deal in Oct. 2011. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

i24 News – A father whose name is known in every household across Israel died yesterday, aged 68.

Noam Shalit, a quiet man from the north of the country, was thrust into the public spotlight when his son Gilad was captured by Hamas in the summer of 2006.

The senior Shalit became the public face of the campaign to secure Gilad’s release, spending nights camped outside the prime minister’s residence, meeting celebrities and national leaders, and even speaking at the United Nations.

Noam’s actions, along with those of his wife Aviva, transformed the captivity of his son into a national obsession that eventually led to then prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu signing a prisoner exchange deal with Hamas.

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Unlike in Western nations with professional armies, Israel’s conscript military recruits its soldiers from most families across the country, and this impacts how Israelis view their soldiers. Every military casualty — and triply so every captive — is a young person that the public empathizes with, who could be their son, sibling or close family member.

And Gilad’s parents rammed this point home through a savvy PR campaign, securing their son’s release in the process, the Jerusalem Post reported. The young soldier’s face was present everywhere across Israel during his captivity — even briefly appearing in New York’s Times Square — and the intensity of the campaign wore on Noam.

“Five and a half years of stress did not help my health,” he recently told Israel’s Channel 12. “There is no medical proof to that, but it seems there is some connection.”

The younger Shalit was captured by Gazan terrorists during a cross border raid which killed two other members of his tank crew. Gilad was held in isolation inside Gaza for five years and eventually exchanged for over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners.

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