Israeli president congratulates freed hostage on surviving ordeal
Israeli President Shimon Peres visited freed Israeli hostage Gilad Shalit Monday and congratulated him on surviving his imprisonment in which he was alone, isolated, and "in a state of uncertainty."
Shalit, who is currently recuperating in his home village of Mitzpe Hila, was released last week from five years, four months as a prisoner of the Islamic group Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Most of his captivity was spent incommunicado and virtual isolation, DPA reported.
"You underwent a test of a difficult imprisonment which not many people would have been capable of enduring," Peres told Shalit, according to a communique issued by his office after the meeting.
The president added that Shalit's return, as part of a swap in which Israel freed 477 Palestinian prisoners, was "a national and personal event."
Shalit, who emerged from his captivity malnourished and lacking exposure to sunlight, told Peres that he was slowly regaining his strength and was happy to be home.
The president was the first Israeli official to visit Shalit since his return.
Activists who campaigned for Shalit's release during his captivity, meanwhile, dismantled Monday the protest tent they had erected more than one year ago opposite the official Jerusalem residence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.