Home for the Holidays: Gilad Shalit Celebrates Simchat Torah With Family

A day after celebratory return of Gilad Shalit, crowds in Mitzpe Hila begin to lessen; IDF medical officials visit Shalit home.

A day after returning to his home in Mitzpe Hila after five years in Hamas captivity, Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit marked the Simchat Torah holiday at home with his family on Wednesday night.

With the onset of the holiday, the number of onlookers on the streets of Mitzpe Hila lessened. However, a police checkpoint was still located at the entrance to Shalits street and people are still being prevented from approaching the Shalit home.

Many visitors brought flowers for the Shalit family.

Toward evening, the last of the activists who campaigned for Shalits release left Mitzpe Hila.

This is the end of one phase of my life and the beginning of another, said activist Ella Hefetz, with tears in her eyes.

Gilad Shalit Oct. 19, 2011 (Yarom Kaminsky)
Yaron Kaminsky

Earlier on Wednesday, Israel Defense Forces medical officers arrived at the Shalit home.

Shalit was also spotted on Wednesday taking a stroll outside home, accompanied by his mother Aviva and military mental health officials.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday morning, Gilad's father Noam said his son "is doing well and he slept well overnight."

"He needs quiet to recuperate and we hope to return to a normal life as soon as possible," he added.

News of a visit by five IDF doctors to the Mitzpe Hila home came following reports on Tuesday that Shalit had felt unwell during a helicopter flight from Egypt's border with Israel to an IAF base in central Israel, despite initial examinations that found the IDF soldier to be in good health.

Shalit then underwent a more comprehensive check-up before the decision was made to send him home by helicopter under medical supervision.

Israel freed 1,027 Palestinian and Israeli Arab prisoners to get Shalit back, including many who had been involved in terror attacks on Israeli civilians.