Gilad Schalit’s capture: In his own words

By the Jerusalem Post: Former soldier gives military investigators an account of the attack that led to his capture and the deaths of two of his comrades.

Gilad Schalit arrives from captivity Photo: REUTERS

Gilad Schalit arrives from captivity Photo: REUTERS

In conversations with a psychologist after his return to Israel from five years in captivity, Gilad Schalit expressed fears over the IDF investigation he would undergo. Schalit knew exactly what he was worried about – he knew all too well the circumstances that led to his captivity. He knew that there was no military glory in what had happened there, on that night. He knew that he did not do his duty as an IDF combat soldier and did not even do the minimum to prevent his own capture.

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Schalit knew that he had effectively given himself up on June 25, 2006, been taken captive without firing even one bullet, despite the fact that he could have prevented the entire situation with relative ease. He was very concerned indeed over his meeting with the military investigators.

But in contrast to other cases of soldiers being taken prisoner or abducted, the IDF was handling Schalit with kid gloves.

The soldier had become “the child of us all,” whose years of absence were etched on the national consciousness – and it was a sentiment that had infected the IDF as well.

…Three more attacked an empty IDF armored personnel carrier some distance away, and the other two hit the tank. If the tank crew had remained inside the tank, it would have been easy to take out their attackers.

Even Schalit, alone as he was, should have been able to manage it. At this point Schalit was sitting in the gunner’s seat, praying for it to just be over. Then one of militants approached and threw two or three grenades into the turret. Schalit doesn’t recall the explosion of the grenades, but he does remember the smoke very well.

His bullet-proof vest and his flak jacket, hanging on the back of the chair, absorbed most of the impact. The chair was completely shredded.

Schalit, miraculously, was lightly wounded with shrapnel in his elbow and rear. He was scared, shocked. He stayed in the tank for a minute or two until the smoke spread throughout the turret and he found it hard to breathe. Then he decided, finally, to leave. He left unarmed. His gun, a deadly M-16, he left on the floor of the turret. In military terms, this is called abandoning your weapon.

If only Schalit had taken his gun with him when he left the tank; if only he had seen the militant approach the tank and start to climb up it. He could have taken him out easily, but he was not in battle mode. This is what Schalit himself told the investigators. Schalit’s tank did not fire a single bullet.

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