Gantz appoints intel team to find new leads on Schalit

Team to be led by ex-Sayeret Matkal commander, will review information collected on captive IDF soldier which may lead to his release.

By
July 13, 2011 16:19
1 minute read.
Captured soldier Gilad Schalit in video

Gilad Schalit in video 311 (R). (photo credit: Reuters)

IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz appointed a team of intelligence officers on Wednesday to review information collected in the Gilad Schalit case and search for new leads that could bring the abducted soldier’s release.

The team will be led by Col. (res.) Lior Lotan, a former team commander in the General Staff Reconnaissance Unit – better known as Sayeret Matkal. He received an IDF Medal of Valor for his participation in the 1994 attempt to rescue Nachshon Wachsman, a soldier kidnapped by Hamas and killed in the rescue attempt.

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Lotan later served as commander of the IDF’s hostage negotiation unit and as head of the Military Intelligence unit responsible for locating missing IDF soldiers.

On Wednesday, the head of the IDF Manpower Directorate, Maj.-Gen. Orna Barbivai, met with Schalit’s parents, Aviva and Noam, and informed them of Gantz’s decision to establish the team.

IDF sources said Lotan’s team would work in coordination with the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), the Mossad and the mediator appointed by the Prime Minister’s Office. It will review all of the intelligence information collected by the military and Shin Bet so far and search for new clues and leads.

“The team will look at what has been done and see if something could have been done differently or if something was missed,” one source explained. “The work will be synchronized with the rest of the teams that are already working on the Schalit case.”

While the establishment of the team seemed to indicate a possible effort by the IDF to create a new option to rescue Schalit, defense officials said that it would assist the political echelon which has been debating a potential prisoner swap with Hamas.



Former chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Gabi Ashkenazi and former Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin both recently expressed disappointment with their failure to secure Schalit’s release before their terms expired earlier this year.


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