Nearly a year after he was released from Hamas captivity, Gilad Shalit gave his first interview to Israeli television on Thursday.
In the interview, which aired on Channel 10, Shalit recalled that while he was in captivity, he would sometimes draw a map of Israel and of the community of Mitzpe Hila where he lives. "I would draw the map of the country, of Mitzpe Hila and of all the houses so I can remember and imagine the places,” he said.
Asked how he spent the long days and nights during captivity, Shalit said, “During the day I would play all kinds of games with my Hamas captors. I played all kinds of games on my own. Weird games, especially sports oriented games using a ball.
“I would make a ball out of socks or a shirt," he added, "and then I’d throw it in all kinds of places, such as the trash. Occasionally I’d write things down.”
Shalit said he sometimes had to hide the things he wrote because his captors suspected he was gathering information.
Asked if he wrote a diary during his captivity, Shalit said he did not. “I had all kinds of lists, of things I did, things I wanted to remember, all kinds of records,” he said.
Shalit also spoke of his feelings when he was transferred, on the day of his release, to Egypt. “During the trip I felt a lot of pressure. I didn’t know if something might happen, if someone may try to hurt us, if something will go wrong at the last minute. And as soon as I got out of the vehicle and entered Egypt I had a sense of relief. Suddenly I saw before me dozens, hundreds of people, after not having seen more than a few people all these years.
"The first night at home I slept well in my bed," he added. "I went to bed at nine, I got up at 2 a.m. I started wandering around the house. I looked out the windows and I saw Border Guards walking around the yard.”
Shalit also spoke about the controversial interview that he was forced to give to Egyptian anchorwoman Shahira Amin just moments after his release. During the interview Shalit was visibly overwhelmed, tired and confused, but Amin badgered him nonetheless before he could go meet his family.
"The interviewer did not hug me, she just squeezed my hand,” he said, adding jokingly, “She was the first woman I saw after nearly five and a half years. Why her of all people?”
He recently made headlines after he was invited by the Barcelona soccer team to attend a Barcelona-Real Madrid derby. Hamas reacted furiously to the invitation extended to Shalit, demanding that FC Barcelona keep him away, and urging Muslim media not to broadcast the game if he attended.
On Sunday Gazans held a “protest game” outside the Red Cross headquarters in Gaza. Those present condemned the Catalan club’s decision to invite Shalit to the game, and claimed that this constituted an act of injustice to the thousands of PA Arab prisoners who are still serving time in Israeli prisons.
Shalit, who is a great sports fan, writes a newspaper sports column for the Hebrew-language daily Yediot Aharonot.