U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr., made the following statement upon the release of Israel Defense Forces Staff Sergeant Gilad Shalit, who has returned home to his family after being abducted five years ago.
"I am heartened to hear that after far too long, Staff Sgt. Gilad Shalit is finally home. My thoughts are with him and his family on this momentous day," stated Pascrell, who has advocated for the release of Staff Sgt. Shalit since the early days of his capture.
Rep. Pascrell voted in support of H. Res 107, which called for the immediate and unconditional release of Israeli soldiers held captive by Hamas and Hezbollah. The resolution, which passed the house in March 2007, demanded that Hamas release Shalit as well as accede to basic standards of humanitarian conduct including access to adequate medical care for all prisoners. Last year, Rep. Pascrell voted in favor of H. Res 1359, which reiterated the need for Shalit's immediate release.
In exchange for Shalit's return, Israel has agreed to the release of more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners being held in Israeli jails during the coming months. More than 477 of those prisoners were freed yesterday and transported back to Palestinian territories.
"The exchange of so many prisoners is a very high price to pay," Pascrell said. "But I must remain hopeful that yesterday's events can serve as a small step towards a lasting peace."