Gilad Schalit: I was scared people would forget me

Freed IDF soldier describes his more than 5 years in Hamas captivity, says: State paid the price for me, I will send my kids to IDF.

Gilad Schalit arrives from captivity 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Gilad Schalit arrives from captivity 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
"I was scared people would forget me," freed IDF soldier Gilad Schalit said in his first interview since his release from Hamas captivity, broadcast in full on Wednesday by Channel 10.
Speaking about his more than five years in Gaza, Schalit described everything from his sleeping patterns to his feelings upon release.
"I didn't sleep very well," Schalit said of his captivity. "People were there bothering me. I would wake up in the middle of the night."
He added affably: "But I had plenty of time to make up for sleep in the day."
Describing methods he used to pass the time, Schalit said he used to make up games. "I used to play a lot of games on my own as well. I used to make a ball out of a sock and throw it around all sorts of places, like into a garbage can." He added that he also drew maps - of the country, of his community and of his favorite places - so he would not forget them.
"I used to write, I used to make lists, I used to follow sport events," he said.
Asked about daylight, Schalit said he was allowed to watch television, but he wasn't allowed outside. "I saw the sun through the TV," he remarked. "I imagined it too."
Schalit was released in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails, in accordance with an Egypt-brokered deal.
"The week they told me I was being released felt like an eternity," he said. "I didn't sleep. I slept maybe an hour [that night.]"
Speaking of his release, Schalit said he felt a sense of great "relief" when he crossed into Egypt and that he was disconcerted by the "flurry" of people around him after only seeing a few people for nearly six years.
"I was really tired and slept well," Schalit said of his return home. "Then I wandered around my house."
He added wryly that when he was forced to be interviewed on Egyptian television, the interviewer was the first woman he had seen since being taken captive.
Schalit also said it would be "difficult to send my kids to the IDF. But in the end the State saved me from that place. It fulfilled its part in the prisoner exchange. It paid the price. I will certainly send my kids to the army."
He added: "I hope that they won't have to go, but for now that doesn't seem like an option."
JTA contributed to this report.