Reserve Brig. Gen. Hezi Meshita headed the campaign for Gilad Shalit for eight months during which, together with the other activists, he tried to steer the public campaign. On Sunday, Meshita paid a visit to Shalit's parents, but he said he will not join the festivities planned upon their son's return home because he thinks Gilad and his family will need private time.

The public support for the soldier's release was effective, Meshita said, denying that he left the campaign because of differences with the Shalit family over how to conduct the effort. "There were no differences. I came for a limited period of time and I made that clear up front," Meshita said.

"I thought the [2009 Knesset] election period would be crucial and constitute a great window of opportunity for Gilad's return, but unfortunately it didn't happen, and I left a few months after the elections." He said he remained at the head of the campaign longer than he had initially planned, adding that the Shalit family had ultimate authority on the conduct of the public campaign and the others were there at their side.

When asked if the campaign efforts, which intensified over the past year and a half, might have borne fruit earlier if the pace had been stepped up earlier, Meshita said that could not yet be answered. He noted, however, that there are those who think the passage of time worked in the campaign's favor, leading Hamas to become more flexible in its negotiating position.