Boca Raton family wrote letters to help free Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit; overjoyed at his release

Six months ago they wrote to 165 countries

BOCA RATON, Fla. - A Boca Raton family is rejoicing that Israeli soldier and war prisoner Gilad Schalit is returning home. The Kaskel family worked to keep his plight in mind, by writing countries calling for his release.

Six months ago the Kaskels wrote to 165 countries hoping someone could make a difference. In June of 2006, Schalit was captured by Palestinian militants. He was held hostage by Hamas until Monday.

The problem they were trying to solve was half a world away, but that didn't stop the family of four from trying. 

"You should never give up trying, because you don't know what will tip the scale and make the outcome the way we hoped," says Sue Kaskel.

"Had no one done anything, made calls, or written letters, I doubt he would have been released today," says Dan Kaskel.

Schalit's release comes with a hefty price. Israel agreed to release more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, many of whom were convicted of deadly attacks on Israelis. 

"They're not releasing shoplifters, they're releasing people who set bombs and killed people. It's mixed relief and angst," says Rachel Miller, President of the American Jewish Committee.

The Kaskels support Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's decision to go along with the exchange. 

"Absolutely, without hesitation. It's difficult but no matter the consequences, he should've been released," says Sue Kaskel.

The Kaskels will never know if their letter-writing campaign made a difference in Schalit's release, but they did hear back from several countries. Korea, Poland and Australia all wrote back saying they were also pushing for Schalit's freedom.

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