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New Details About the Capture of Gilad Shalit

And what they say about Israel

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Following Gilad Shalit’s meeting with military investigators, a much clearer picture of the events that led to his capture emerged along with information about his years under Hamas captivity and death of two other soldiers in the initial attack.

In short, the narrative paints Shalit–by his own admission–as a timid, shell-shocked soldier, who found himself unable to fight back at the most dire moment. As the Jerusalem Post reported (with some cushioning):

Even Schalit, alone as he was, should have been able to manage it [to fend off his captors]. 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.

The picture of Shalit as a rosh katan, “a small head,” what you’d call a soldier who is completely reliant on his commanders in Israel or a “sad sack” in American army is a tough indictment to read after Shalit’s years spent in Hamas basements. But what this reveals about Israel, which embraced him for his endurance throughout his horrible captivity, is important.

It comes as no big surprise that Shalit hadn’t fought to escape. The limited images of Shalit, with which the world became quite familiar over the years, showed him as he was: a thin, nervous-looking kid, likely someone’s diminutive little brother, doing his compulsory army service. And despite the (often vicious) stereotype of the Israeli soldier as modern Spartan–wild, mechanical, inhuman–Shalit was elevated to a hero status by his countrymen.

While his release was opposed by many on strategic grounds, he was never shamed or labeled a coward for being unable to resist capture. If this were Sparta, you would see no value in bargaining over a 1,000 prisoners–many of whom did kill–for a boy who was unable to fight at all.

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Jacob Arnon says:

I never thought Shalit was a hero and I didn’t agree with the price payed for his release. However, attacking him now as a coward is base.

    Not saying I would have done better. But the guy panicked. And they let the worst of the worst out of jail in exchange for him

      silverbackV says:

      The “kid” was a kid, put in adverse conditions. We are all wired differently and mature at different rates and react differently. One thing is certain, hind sight is always 20/20.

He did what he felt he had to do to survive. Just leave the poor guy alone.

    Actually he didn’t. He is lucky in that Israel exchanged a huge number of scumbags for him. No other country would have done that.

      Yechiel Gordon says:

      By “scumbags,” you apparently mean political prisoners. Please feel free to clarigy.

        So it’s making a political statement to kill unarmed civilians? That’s what scumbags mean. Sounds like the kind of people you support. Says a lot about you.

        So it’s making a political statement to kill unarmed civilians? That’s what scumbags mean. Sounds like the kind of people you support. Says a lot about you.

        They are only “political prisoners” to supporters of Hamas and others who want to destroy Israel (I assume that includes yourself). Political prisoners are imprisoned because of their agenda. These people were imprisoned because of their illegal actions, some of whom killed innocent Israelis (curious you would consider THOSE people “political prisoners”). That’s what makes Israel a rational country, ruled by laws — rare, if not unique, in that part of the world. it’s what makes Israel enviable. It’s why I am proud of that little country that has accomplished so much, despite people like you.

        He means terrorists “with blood on their hands”,i.e., who have been responsible for the deaths of Israelis..

    Maureen, it is quite obvious that you have never been in the military, nver been near a policeman, fireman, ambulance driver, or any other person who on a regular basis puts his own life at risk, for the communal safety.

    Your attitude reminds me of the individualist Northern California types, who talk spirituality and hypothetical morality, but NEVER assume personal responsibility. They leave that for the plebeians of the lower classes, immigrants and farmers’ kids.

    Assuming responsibility is what Israel is all about. My in laws, myself and my kids ALL assumed communal responsibility, and were trained by the military to over come out fears, in order to protect the greatest number of Israeli lives.

    Of course much of the Israeli press would much prefer to spend their days in Northern California, fighting over the personal rights of sagging bellied men to sit nude on sidewalk benches in San Francisco. They did a good job of brainwashing the Israeli public that Shalit is a hero, unlike Roi Klein, who jumped on a hand grenade to save the lives of his soldiers. (Now that was an unjustified assault on their holy concepts of the ME ME ME…. and, Klein was religious. And a settler. Yuch!)

Let’s hope this realization leads to a revised policy where more mature soldiers are put in the hot seats.

Ricgwapo says:

In exchange for Gilad’s release, some could say that it was a foolish act of the government but for us who are not Jewish or Israeli, I personally feel, the value of life your Government has placed on each and every Israeli, as the life of one of your people equivalent to as many a thousand of the others.

If these thousand prisoners were treated well, I believed that these same people would spread the news of what a humane society Israeli has.

    they won’t. And yes, they WERE treated well. They were even allowed to continue their education, receiving degrees!

    Lynne T says:

    Unfortunately, no matter how well Israelis have treated Palestinians, and how badly the Palestinian leadership has treated its own, many Palestinians will happily resort to acts of terror against Israel and/or Jews. Recall the Palestinian woman who was ready to walk into the hospital with explosives in her underwear, and detonate herself where she would kill the very people who saved her after a near fatal kitchen fire and any patients, Jew or non-Jew, in the vicinity.

Hannh rossiter says:

Often when one is in a stressful time and place one does not do what they are supposed to do. Gilad is one of those 90% of people who find the idea of killing people difficult or impossible. I know myself that while I am capable as we are capable of killing someone, doing so would take a far higher toll on my soul. I would find very difficult to live with myself.

Gilad did nothing wrong.

even in WW2, the US army realised that most of the shots fired were fired at the general direction of the enemy and at a particular enemy soldier.

there are many stories about soldiers in israel not fighting or even running away….unfortunately, in israel, it is a tradition in the army not to wear your flak jacket or even your helmet….that his rifle was on the floor is also quite common…people become lazy…i have nothing against gilad…after two grenade explosions he must have been in shock… one knows how they will react in such a situation until they have actually been in that situation….gilad did the best that he could….that’s good enough for me…

The judgement disgusts me. May none of us ever know even a hundredth of what he and his family went and still goes through. Goal nefesh!

Michael Sykora says:

It would have been better to have this discussion before the agreement to release 1000 prisoners.


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New Details About the Capture of Gilad Shalit

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