Gilad Shalit speaks about captivity on first anniversary

By Jennifer Lipman, October 18, 2012
One year ago today: Gilad Shalit walks to freedom

One year ago today: Gilad Shalit walks to freedom

For more than five years, Gilad Shalit lived in captivity, wondering whether he would ever see his family, friends or home again.

A year after he was freed, after 1,942 days as a Hamas prisoner, he has spoken of how much he values the little things that he missed during that time.

Speaking to Israel's Channel 10, he referred to experiences such as "seeing nature, walking outside, opening a window, meeting people, being on the street, getting a mother's hug, receiving warmth and love from family, friends" .

"This is something I didn't get all those years in captivity," said the 26-year-old, who was kidnapped at the Gaza border in June 2006, when he was just 19.

He told the interviewer that it had not been easy returning to normal life. "People have changed, have grown up, you feel as if you were left behind," he said.

Looking to the future, the soldier said that if he had children, it would be difficult for him to send them to the army. But he added: "In the end the state got me out of thereā€¦I have no doubt I will send my children to the army."

In the year since his release, he has kept a low profile, working as a basketball correspondent for Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot. In April he was spotted at a nightclub in Tel Aviv by British holidaymakers, much to their delight. And in an event that gave an eerie reminder of how life and art can overlap, he visited the set of the US television show Homeland, which was inspired by an Israeli series about missing soldiers adapting to life after captivity.

While he was a captive, Sergeant Shalit spoke of his worry that he would share the fate of navigator Ron Arad, perhaps the most well-known of Israel's missing soldiers, who was captured in 1986.

He said that during his lengthy period away from home, he would sketch maps of Israel and the streets of Mitzpe Hila, where his parents grew up. "So I would remember, so I wouldn't forget," he said.

Last updated: 1:18pm, October 18 2012