In a pre-recorded message to activists who worked 1,941 days for his release, Gilad Shalit said, "I will be grateful for the rest of my life."
"I know without a doubt that your ongoing determined struggle for my release, each one according to his or her abilities, along with the support for my family throughout the long journey, was one of the deciding factors in the decision to bring me home," he said.
Some 300 activists gathered in Kibbutz Shefayim Saturday evening to listen to the message from Shalit, who was released in October in the framework of a prisoner exchange deal between Israel and Hamas.
"I am certain that I will hear much more about this long and exhausting campaign you launched in the summer of 2006 and continued without getting discouraged or backing down despite the difficulties, the ups and downs, the hope and disappointments, until it ended on October 18," Shalit told the activists.
Noam Shalit, the former captive's father, told the activists "tonight we've reached the end of this long journey. Gilad still has a long way to go, but you – the dedicated activists – can say ('job well done').
"Gilad still does not know about all the rigorous work that was done for him, about all the good people who worked tirelessly for so many years. Naturally, he is finding it difficult to process so much information, but I suppose that in time he will be exposed to everything that was done and all the people and organizations who acted and accompanied us loyally and tenaciously until the struggle was over," he said.