Noam Shalit, R, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Noam Shalit, R, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in July 2010. Photo by Avi Oha
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met the Shalit family at the Tel Nof Air Base on Tuesday morning, to whom he expressed his joy that their son and brother would shortly be returning home after five years of captivity in Gaza.

"I am delighted we've arrived at this day. In a short time Gilad will return to you," Netanyahu told the Shalit family, hours before Shalit was officially released from the Hamas captors who had held him hostage for five years.

Netanyahu also told the family that they would be provided with pictures of Gilad as soon as possible.

Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit was set to return to Israel as part of a prisoner exchange deal between Israel and Hamas.

Mitzpe Hila closes to visitors

Members of the Shalit family, parents Noam and Aviva, brother Yoel and sister Hadas, left this morning shortly after 6 A.M. for the Tel Nof Air Base. Gilad's grandfather, Tzvi, and grandmother, Yael (Noam's parents) were also to join them.

Noam arrived back to Mitzpe Hila Monday evening after a long day at the High Court. He chose not to talk to the media and rushed directly into his house.

The community attracted travelers and curios onlookers throughout the day, who chose to be photographed by the Shalit family home. On Monday evening, shortly after the news broadcasts ended, media personnel distanced themselves from the home, and the army police and Israel Police Force hermetically sealed the site.

There is currently no access to the path leading to the family's home. The entire community will be closed to visitors and the front gate closed since Tuesday morning. Only the media will be permitted access to a pre-prepared stage.

A special brochure will be handed out Tuesday morning to the large audience expected to visit Mitzpe Hila, which has turned into a pilgrimage site. Among other things written in the brochure, is "We now need to be exhibit patience, allow Gilad - after 1,942 days – to return to daily life at his own rate." Children of the community went from house to house, handing out t-shirts with the words, "Gilad, we're waiting for you at home." Residents of the community are preparing to wear the t-shirts and stand in a human chain upon his return.