Gilad Shalit Thanks France, Germany for Assistance in Release

Israeli soldier who spent more than five years in captivity sends letter to French and German leaders, thanking them for ‘unlimited support’.

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Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit on Wednesday handed thank you letters to the envoys of France and Germany for President Nicolas Sarkozy and Chancellor Angela Merkel, for their efforts to secure his release from his Palestinian captors three months ago.

"I want to thank you with all my heart for the unlimited support you have given me and your efforts to bring about my release," Shalit wrote in a letter addressed to Sarkozy and the French people, Israeli media reported.

Shalit and his father, Noam Shalit, met with French ambassador Christophe Bigot and German ambassador Andreas Michaelis in Tel Aviv.

Recently-freed Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit sits next to Christophe Bigot, the French ambassador to Israel in Tel Aviv, January 11, 2012. Credit: Reuters

Gerhard Conrad of Germany's Federal Intelligence Service is believed to have mediated the negotiations that led to Shalit's release.

Shalit, who is a dual French-Israeli citizen, spent more than five years in captivity after he was snatched in a 2006 cross-border raid by Palestinian militants. He was released in October in a prisoner swap deal between Israel and the enclave's Islamist Hamas rulers.

On Monday, Shalit’s father Noam announced that he intends to run for a place on the Israel Labor Party list for the next Knesset.

Noam Shalit, who has been a member of the Israel Labor Party since 1996, informed Israel Labor Party chairperson, Shelly Yachimovich, of the decision on Monday.

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