Many thousands of activists from all over the country lent their support to the Shalit family during their years of efforts to secure the release of Gilad Shalit from captivity in the Gaza Strip. Among those volunteers were those who left everything for the cause, devoting all their efforts, particularly beginning a year and a half ago, when Shalit's family marched from their home in Mitzpeh Hila to Jerusalem, where they set up a protest tent opposite the prime minister's residence.
Among the most prominent activists in the Shalit campaign was Ohad Kaner, 31, of Kiryat Bialik, who joined the march to Jerusalem in June last year and was involved with the effort virtually every moment from then until Shalit's release this week. He also spent many nights over the past year and a half in the protest tent.
He has not yet met Shalit, but will attempt to resume his own normal routine shortly.
How do you return to a routine?
"It's not easy. I devoted the last year and a half to the public campaign for Shalit. I did it out of total loyalty to Gilad, who I have never met, because I saw it as my civic and national duty of the first order, and I cried out the family's cries and the cries sounded by Gilad. Now is the time to take a step backward."
What are you doing?
"For us as activists, it's important to give Gilad and the family time. If he and the family decide they want to meet the activists, then we will happily do so and meet with Gilad, and tell him about the campaign and what happened while he was held in captivity.
"From my standpoint, the campaign has ended and Gilad has returned home, and at the beginning of the week we will complete the removal and dismantling of the tent that is the symbol of this campaign."
What will you do?
"I'm returning home to my family. True, I am single, but I want to get back to my life, to friends who I abandoned to going out for entertainment, which I have forgone. I plan on renovating the house, maybe find a partner, and also find work. In the past, prior to the beginning of the campaign, I was involved in project management and I hope to find work and also start a new direction."
Will you stay in touch with the [Shalit] family?
"Of course. I will always back them up and assist in any way they would like. Over the year and a half, I got to know the family and for me Noam and Aviva are like parents."
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