I was happy to learn that a breakthrough has been achieved in this Gilad Shalit saga.
Prisoners have been handed back, and Shalit's video has been released in exchange.
As Isabel Kershner of the NYT writes, he is "thin and wan, but lucid and very much alive."
Through the medium of a television screen, this is the closest the Shalit family have been to him since he was taken away. They will probably sleep better tonight than they have in 3 years.
It was unequivocally Gilad. To make sure, he stated his Israeli ID number and recounted a story that only he would know about a day trip when his Dad came to visit him in his army base and photographed him in an old Merkava tank.
Here is the video:
I just watched it for the fifth time and haven't been able to really glean any extra insight other than the obvious information Hamas wanted to convey. I noticed that the most nervous smiling came at around 2:22 when he is forced to say, "The mujahideen of the Izzeddine al-Qassam Brigades are treating me fine."
It could mean that he is trying to communicate that this is not entirely true. It could also mean that it is mostly true, and he has a serious case of Stockholm Syndrome to the extent that he is bonding with someone behind the camera. Are there any psychologists reading this blog? Is it likely that he has developed some bond or attachment with his captors over his 1000 plus days in Gaza?
If there was such a thing as Vegas odds of Gilad coming back to his home in one piece, then they just went up dramatically. But then again, the Middle East is a place where probabilities turn into improbabilities.
But, this is the necessary first step in securing Shalit's release. Israel needed to verify that he was alive and healthy, while Hamas wanted to prove the same thing.
Gilad's value is higher today than he was yesterday. The problem is that both sides are aware of this.