Channel 10 program reenacts Schalit abduction

The one-hour documentary, When They Took Gilad, will air Thursday at 9 p.m. within Amnon Levy’s “Panim Amitiot” program.

May 19, 2011 06:00
3 minute read.
Gilad Schalit

Gilad Schalit 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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The day before Cpl. Gilad Schalit was kidnapped, the IDF arrested a Hamas member in the Gaza Strip and transferred him to the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) for questioning.

Unbeknownst to the authorities, the prisoner was a member of a unit formed by Hamas to carry out an operation to kidnap an IDF soldier. Hamas decided to bring its plan forward upon learning of the arrest.

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According to Shin Bet interrogation transcripts included in a Channel 10 program about the events surrounding Schalit’s abduction, the prisoner did not tell interrogators what he knew until a few hours after Schalit was taken.

The one-hour documentary, When They Took Gilad, will air Thursday at 9 p.m. within Amnon Levy’s “Panim Amitiot” program.

Itay Dankner, executive producer of the show, said the documentary, which required six months of research, shows a minute-by-minute breakdown of what occurred near Kerem Shalom in the early hours of June 25, 2006.

“People tend to forget that there was also a big battle there,” Dankner said. “The terrorists were divided into three units – one attacked Gilad’s tank, another attacked an armored vehicle that was unmanned, thank God, and another attacked a watch tower where there were three soldiers.”

It only took eight minutes to capture Schalit. The first shots were fired at 5:13 a.m., and by 5:21 a.m., Schalit and his two kidnappers were crossing the border into Gaza.

Dankner and his colleagues interviewed many who were connected to the events of that day, including Schalit’s parents and soldiers who served with him.

Sliman A-Shafi, a former Gaza correspondent for Channel 2, interviewed Hamas members for the program.

“We interviewed everyone from the low-ranked soldier to the highest-ranked general who was in charge of investigating the incident [Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland, former head of the National Security Council].”

The Channel 10 team also filmed the area where the battle took place, and produced reenactments with actors. The IDF censor approved the final version of the documentary on Wednesday afternoon.

“Even though we are bringing to the screen very delicate material that was top-secret, they allowed everything, even the harshest criticisms, to be told,” Dankner said.

The documentary recounts that an IDF jeep arrived at Schalit’s tank at 5:27 a.m. The soldiers in the jeep knew there were four soldiers in the tank, and saw the bodies of Lt.

Hanan Barak and St.-Sgt. Pavel Slutsker outside of it. If they had looked inside the tank, they would have seen one wounded soldier, and noticed that Schalit was missing.

The soldiers did not check the tank’s interior because they suddenly saw that their comrades at the watch tower a few hundred meters away were under attack and rushed to assist them. As a result, nobody noticed that Schalit was missing until 6:41 a.m., according to the documentary.

The film also discusses how the IDF was operating under a misconception about how to defend the border with Gaza following disengagement. Schalit was kidnapped only 10 months after Israel withdrew from Gaza.

“This was a new border and they thought the danger was going to come from Gaza, so they were looking towards Gaza while the terrorists dug a tunnel and came out behind them, within Israel,” Dankner said.

The politically sensitive nature of an IDF mission inside Gaza so soon after disengagement meant that soldiers could not enter Gaza without approval from both the defense minister and IDF chief of staff, even if they knew that a soldier had been kidnapped, according to the documentary.

While interviewing Schalit’s parents, the Channel 10 team warned them that the program might be difficult for them to watch, especially since an actor resembling their son is featured in the reenactments.

“Noam Schalit said, ‘Of course it’s going to be hard – our day-to-day life is hard. I’m asking for one thing: Just let people know that [with regard to] all the mistakes that were made and all the tragic actions that could have been avoided, the only person who still pays for those mistakes is Gilad Schalit,’” Dankner said.

Shimshon Libman, a Schalit family spokesman, said Noam and Aviva Schalit will watch the program with relatives and friends via computer in their protest tent outside the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem.

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