When Gilad Schalit sat down minutes after crossing into Israel for his first
conversation with an IDF psychologist, he smiled and said to the doctor: “I knew
you would be surprised by my condition.”
Schalit was right.
IDF had prepared for a far worse scenario. It equipped a standard armored
military jeep with sophisticated medical equipment for the short fiveminute
drive from the Kerem Shalom crossing with Egypt to a nearby base and deployed
medical equipment that it had used in Haiti at the Tel Nof Air Force Base as
Noam Schalit: Gilad's conditions were harsh, improved later
Schalit: I thought I'd be held captive for years to come
While Schalit appeared skinny and pale, according to IDF estimates,
he received regular amounts of food while in Hamas captivity. His pale and
skinny appearance is understood to be the result of the mental pressure he had
been under during the five years and four months of his imprisonment.
officers who met with Schalit refrained from asking direct questions about the
conditions of his captivity but he volunteered a few details.
saw sunlight but he was given a radio and TV by his captors so he could follow
the news. That is how, for example, he knew that Binyamin Netanyahu was prime
minister and that Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz was the IDF chief of General
On the other hand, Schalit said during his interview with Egyptian
that he was not used to seeing people during his captivity. This could be
interpreted as meaning that he was held by a small number of guards who rarely
interacted with him.
In the coming weeks, military intelligence will
begin meeting with Schalit to debrief him on his experiences and to try to glean
information that could be useful for Israel. One question that will likely come
up is whether Schalit was aware of Ahmed Jabari’s involvement in his captivity.
Jabari appeared on Egyptian TV on Tuesday accompanying Schalit to the Rafah
In addition, Israel will want to learn about his routine, his
captors and where he was kept. Defense officials said the debriefing
would only begin after medical authorities gave the green light.
Igra, a former head of the Mossad’s MIA Division said Tuesday that Schalit
looked surprisingly good and that it appeared Hamas had made an effort to
release him presentable.
“Hamas had an interest in making him look good
so it could say that it treated him well and in a humane manner,” Igra said. “At
the same time though, the paleness is likely the result of the immense pressure
he was under.”