Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit has been reunited with his family after being freed from the terrorist group Hamas.
Shalit was taken by Hamas officials from Gaza into Egypt, then turned over to Israeli officials and taken across the border. He was examined by doctors and given a chance to speak to relatives by telephone; at some point, he changed out of the plaid shirt he had been wearing and into an Israeli army uniform, which hung loosely on his thin frame.
"I thought that I would find myself in this situation many more years," Shalit, who appeared somewhat dazed, said in a brief interview with Egyptian state television before he was brought into Israel. "If they wanted to secure my freedom, they had to pay a price for this."
Shalit was flown by military helicopter to this air base in central Israel, where he was reunited with his family just after 1 p.m. local time (7 a.m. in Washington). He saluted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who embraced him.
"How good that you have returned home," Netanyahu told Shalit, according to Israeli media accounts.
While the Israeli homecoming for Schalit was a subdued affair, you can imagine what it was like when the first of the more than 1000 Palestinian prisoners made it to Gaza:
In Gaza, buses transporting the freed prisoners arrived around midday. Crowds of Hamas fighters, including some of the men who kidnapped Shalit in 2006, were among the well-wishers. Relatives swarmed over the buses looking for their loved ones.
This was a horrible deal that Israel had to make. That's the way that Netanyahu sees it and that view is reflected in polls of the Israeli people.