From the darkness to a debrief: Shalit's first day of freedom

 

Mitzpe Hila

Gilad Shalit, freed in a prisoner exchange this week, is expected to be debriefed by intelligence officers soon about his long incarceration since being seized by Gaza militants more than five years ago.

Sgt Shalit, who was visited by Army medics and will undergo further tests over the coming days, took his first open air stroll yesterday, accompanied by his mother, wearing dark glasses. Israeli officials say he was kept away from sunlight throughout his captivity.

While an intelligence debriefing is unlikely to begin for at least several days, one official said yesterday that it could take place "in parallel" with his continuing rehabilitation. He noted that Sgt Shalit showed every sign of intellectual sharpness during his interview with Egyptian TV minutes after his release on Tuesday.

Although Sgt Shalit looked physically frail and gaunt after his release, needs treatment for untended shrapnel wounds sustained during his capture, and has reportedly had some initial difficulty climbing stairs, both the Israeli military and his father Noam have said his condition is generally good.

Israeli media quoted military sources as saying that when told on Tuesday that his condition was stable, Sgt Shalit joked: "I expected you to be surprised by my good condition." Noam Shalit said his son had told him that while his initial treatment by his captors had been poor, it had improved.

While the conscript, then a 19-year- old corporal, was seized on the Israeli side of the Gaza border in June 2006 in a joint operation – which killed two of his fellow tank crew members – for which two other militant groups also claimed responsibility, he was taken into the sole custody of Hamas.

Although Sgt Shalit is highly unlikely to have information which the Israeli intelligence services would regard as being of operational military significance, they may be interested in any light he can shed on how his captors managed not to throw up any leads on their whereabouts. Such information – including on how few Palestinians were allowed contact with him – could be useful to the Israeli military in the event that other soldiers are captured.

Shimshon Liebman, chairman of the campaign committee that had called for the release of Sgt Shalit over the past three years, said here yesterday: "I don't know if he has a lot to tell but they will ask him very gently, slowly, slowly."

While many of his fellow residents in the Western Galilee village of Mitzpe Hila have testified to his quiet, even shy personality, one good friend and contemporary Dor Peled, also 25, said this week that Sgt Shalit had inner strengths. "He has a rich world inside himself," he said. "He's a little stubborn."

Meanwhile a poll in the daily freesheet Israel Hayom said 29 percent of Israelis had improved their opinion of Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a result of the prisoner exchange compared 8.7 percent who said their opinion was more negative.

Meanwhile the 42 Palestinian prisoners regarded by Israel as being among the most dangerous yesterday arrived in the countries to which they are being deported. Sixteen went to Syria, 15 to Qatar, 10 to Turkey, and one to Jordan.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
  • Get to the point
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Class 2 HGV Driver - with CPC

£26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Haulage company based on the Thorpe Indu...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

SThree: Graduate Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 - £22500 per annum + OTE £30K: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager - OTE £40,000

£28000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence