1,934 days after Hamas kidnapped Gilad Shalit near Kerem Shalom on the border with Gaza, the cabinet met in a dramatic meeting Tuesday night, approving a deal for his release.
Twenty-six ministers voted to approve the prisoner exchange deal signed with Hamas, with only three voting against the deal.
"This is a symbolic day of happiness blended with sorrow. The government succeeded after five years and 1,935 long nights in bringing Gilad home," Noam Shalit, Gilad's father told reporters shortly after the vote's results were announced.
"We want to thank all those who stood by us day and night through the years in this long struggle; we also want to thank the millions of supporters in Israel and abroad. As far as we are concerned, this will all be over when we see Gilad here."
Gilad's mother, Aviva, added: "The joy is indescribable, but until we see Gilad we will keep our feelings under control."
Defense Minister Ehud Barak paying a solidarity visit to Noam and Aviva Shalit at the Shalit family protest tent, addressed the prisoner exchange deal saying "today we took a great stride forward on the path to bringing Gilad back."
Barak suggested that "restraint" be exercised until Schalit was safely back in Israel.
He praised the negotiating team that came to an agreement with Hamas and praised Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for exhibiting "leadership, bravery and responsibility," that eventually led to the signing of the deal and its approval in the cabinet.