Schalit: I thought I'd be held captive for years to come

During interview aired on Egyptian TV, Gilad Schalit talks about release, says he missed family; J'lem officials impressed with answers.

October 18, 2011 11:37
3 minute read.
Gilad Schalit interviewed on Egyptian TV

Schalit Egypt TV 311. (photo credit: Channel 10)


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Egyptian television aired an interview with Gilad Schalit on Tuesday morning, in which the captured soldier said that he thought he might have been held in captivity for many years to come. The interview, which officials called "exploitative," was broadcast in the hours after the IDF soldier was released from captivity.

Schalit, who seemed shocked and distressed, was asked a number of questions by an Egyptian reporter, including how he was feeling, to which he answered: "I am nervous."

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Schalit was asked if he would campaign for the release of the 4,000 Palestinian prisoners that are still held in Israel to which he said that he would be happy if they were released, stressing that he hoped "they would not come back to Israel to fight in wars."

The interviewer also asked him about the Egyptian role in his release to which Schalit replied: "I am grateful for their help."

Palestinian prisoners transferred to Red Cross buses
Schalit family arrives at Tel Nof to greet Gilad

Schalit explained during the interview that he received the news that he would be released a week ago. "I was happy to hear the news but feared that something may go wrong," Schalit added.

When asked what he missed most, he he replied his family, and then went on to explain that he missed talking to people and was looking forward to life after so many years of solitary confinement.

Schalit was released as part of a prisoner exchange deal between Israel and Hamas, which will see a total of 1,027 Palestinian prisoners released - 477 on Tuesday, and 550 in two months' time.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and IDF chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz watched the interview at the Tel Nof Air Force Base while the Schalit family watched in a separate room.

While Israel did not formally respond to the interview of Schalit shown on Egyptian state television following his release, a number of officials expressed shock at the way in which the soldier was exploited. On the other hand, the officials were impressed with the way the soldier responded to the reporter's question, which demonstrated that he was of sound mind and had not lost his faith.

One government official said that Schalit's answers were admirable, noting specifically his answer that Palestinian prisoners should be set free as long as they do not return to terror.

Israel had been informed ahead of time by Egyptian state television that the interview was going to take place.

Click for full JPost coverage on Gilad Schalit

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