'I didn't listen': How ignoring briefing and disobeying order saved the life of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier captured by Hamas

Sergeant held for five years by Hamas reveals how he was taken captive after attack


Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier captured by Hamas operatives in 2006, missed an opportunity to shoot his kidnappers and failed to call for backup, it has been revealed.

Mr Shalit, a sergeant in a tank division posted to patrol the border between Gaza and Israel, made no attempt to escape when he was kidnapped and admitted ignoring security briefings before his deployment according to interviews with army investigators published in the Jerusalem Post offering the first detailed accounts of Mr Shalit’s capture and the five years he was subsequently held in captivity in Gaza.

The interviews, conducted after his release in October 2011 in a prisoner swap deal also, in part, demonstrate a failure of intelligence and a lack of preparedness ahead of the kidnap.

Against orders, three of the four members of the group inside Mr Shalit’s tank were asleep just before 5am on 25 June 2006, when a rocket propelled grenade hit the tank. In the confusion, Mr Shalit was ordered to leave the tank by his commanding officer, Lt Hanan Barak, though the order was against army regulations. Mr Shalit, who was regarded by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) as someone who lacked initiative, refused.

Ignoring the order to leave probably saved Mr Shalit’s life; both Lt Barak, and another soldier, St-Sgt Pavel Slutzker were killed as they left. After his release, Mr Shalit said he did not leave “because the tank seemed safer than there, outside.”

The two militants attacking Mr Shalit’s tank were part of a team of seven who had breached the fence separating Gaza from Israel. In the past it has been suggested that the raid had the specific intention of capturing a soldier, but it appears that Mr Shalit would almost certainly have died had he not hung his bulletproof vest over the back of his seat inside the tank.

The militants lobbed three hand grenades into the tank, with the vest absorbing the worst of the blasts. It was only the smoke that forced Mr Shalit out, where he saw one of the militants climbing onto the tank.

“You never thought to shoot the terrorist?” Mr Shalit was asked during the investigation. “No,” he answered. “I was completely confused. I did not think about anything. I was in shock.” The attacker noticed Mr Shalit when he began shouting “don’t shoot, don’t shoot” in Hebrew.

Despite other units being stationed close by, Mr Shalit did not call for support. He later admitted he had not been paying attention during a briefing ahead of his deployment. “I didn’t listen,” he told investigators. “The commander was listening, and that was enough. I trusted him.”

It was that moment that began Mr Shalit’s 1,934 days in captivity in the Palestinian territories at the hands of Hamas militants. Despite “annoyances” in the early days, he was reasonably well treated, and was even allowed to watch the 2010 World Cup.

Mr Shalit was eventually released in 2011 in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners freed. He has since become a sports journalist.

Life and Style
Pepper, the 3ft 11in shiny box of circuits who can tell jokes and respond to human emotions
techDavid McNeill tests the mettle of one of the new generation of androids being developed in Tokyo
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
ebookA powerful collection of reportage on Egypt’s cycle of awakening and relapse
German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General


£50000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

SAP Data Migration Consultant

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a FTSE 100 organisation are u...

Programme Support, Coms, Bristol, £300-350p/d

£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

Linux Systems Administrator

£33000 per annum + pension, 25 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A highly successfu...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice