Gilad Shalit immediately after his release from Gaza
Gilad Shalit immediately after his release from GazaFlash90

Ten years after IDF soldier Gilad Shalit was returned from captivity in Gaza, in return for 1,027 convicted terrorists, Shalit’s father was interviewed by Channel 12 News.

Noam Shalit has been battling leukemia for six years. “It’s in remission right now,” he related, “but I’m now fighting an auto-immune disease, following a bone-marrow transplant, and I’ve aged a lot. There’s no scientific proof of this,” he added, “but I imagine that five-and-a-half years of stress didn’t benefit my health in any way.”

One of the issues Shalit addressed in the interview was criticism leveled against his son regarding the events surrounding his capture, including a suggestion made by then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that Gilad Shalit was not captured but rather surrendered.

“Ehud Olmert in general has a tendency to rewrite history,” responded Noam Shalit. “And unless someone has been in such a situation himself, he should not be judging – especially not Olmert, who never saw a bullet whizzing past his ear in his life.”

Gilad Shalit was specifically criticized for emerging from his tank unarmed, but his father insisted that being armed and firing would not have resolved the situation. “His weapon wouldn’t have done him any good,” he said. “If he had emerged with his weapon in his hand, and started firing, he would have been killed on the spot. Some people wrote back then that nevertheless, he should have grabbed the turret gun and started firing in all directions – but that wasn’t the situation at all,” he added, noting that at the time of his capture, his son had only been in the army for a year.

“He could have tried something, but it would have been suicidal. And there’s no doubt that a large number of politicians at the time would have been very happy to see Gilad returning home in a coffin, draped with the Israeli flag,” he noted. “To their great disappointment, that didn’t happen.”

On the question of whether it was right to release such a large number of terrorists in return for his son – 1,027 terrorists in all, many of whom returned to their former activities after their release – Noam Shalit diverted any suggestion of blame from himself and pointed the finger at the government.

“There are more than enough Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists available to imprison,” he said, “and even if those specific terrorists hadn’t been released, there are any number of others willing and able to commit terrorist acts.

“We weren’t the ones who told the government who to release in return for Gilad,” he added. “We launched a campaign to pressure the government to free him, but we never tried to tell anyone how to achieve that. If the government back then failed to exert pressure on Hamas in other ways, then there was no other way left to free Gilad other than to free terrorists in exchange. This was a serious failing on the part of the government, and the security system admitted that it did not manage to provide any alternative.”