Year after soldier’s release, Hamas broadcasts film showing how Shalit was kidnapped

Year after soldier’s release, Hamas broadcasts film showing how Shalit was kidnapped

'He thought we were Jews because of our uniforms,' one of the terrorists recounts in the movie

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel. He holds a Masters degree in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and an Honors Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Jewish Studies, and English.

Gilad Shalit speaking on the phone moments before his return to Israel in 2011. (photo credit: image capture from video uploaded to YouTube by galberger)
Gilad Shalit speaking on the phone moments before his return to Israel in 2011. (photo credit: image capture from video uploaded to YouTube by galberger)

Hamas on Thursday released a video dramatizing and documenting the abduction of Gilad Shalit and the killing of two other IDF soldiers in its June 25, 2006 terrorist raid into Israel, a year after the soldier was released from captivity in a lopsided prisoner exchange.

The 45-minute propaganda film broadcast by the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades showed the planning, preparation, and kidnapping of Shalit on the Israeli side of the Israel-Gaza border in June 2006, and his abduction to the Gaza Strip. The film concluded with previously unseen footage of Shalit’s transfer to Egyptian negotiator Ahmed Ja’abari and handover to Israeli authorities last October.

Masked men claiming to be Shalit’s captors featured heavily in the film, recounting their experience training and carrying out the attack. Dramatized recreations of the training and kidnapping accompanied first-hand accounts.

The film related that the decision to attack the Kerem Shalom army base on the Gaza border was made after extensive reconnaissance and intelligence-gathering by a Hamas unit. It then dug a tunnel from a house near the border to beneath the army base.

According to the Hamas men’s testimonies, seven of the 10 terrorists assigned to the kidnapping were informed of their mission at the last moment. The kidnappers claimed that all of the explosives, weapons and communications devices used in the mission were produced by the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades. A tunnel reputed to be the one employed in the kidnapping was shown to viewers.

The kidnapping team was instructed to wait in the tunnel until daybreak, when it was felt soldiers would be tired and inattentive, and the number of army personnel in the area would be at its minimum.

Upon emerging, they were surprised to find that the tunnel brought them 300 meters shy of the base and one of the commanders decided that the Hamas squad would crawl to a thicket near the Israeli position.

“If the mujaheddin had been caught when we were crawling towards the thicket, the mission would have failed,” a kidnapper identified as Abu Saleh said.

At the moment of the terrorists’ assault, their comrades in Gaza began firing rockets and mortar shells at the Kerem Shalom army base. One squad placed an explosive charge at the base of a Merkava tank’s turret, then fired an anti-tank missile at it after detonating the charge. The second squad charged a guard tower and fired at it. A third squad attacked a nearby armored personnel carrier.

In the dramatized recreation of Shalit’s kidnapping following the assault on his tank, the Hamas men gunned down two Israeli soldiers who came out of the tank. Thereafter “Shalit” crawled out of the tank unarmed and with his hands raised.

Israeli soldiers Hanan Barak and Pavel Slutzker were both killed in the attack, which also lightly injured Shalit.

According to the film, Shalit initially believed that his attackers were Israelis, not Hamas terrorists. When the terrorists reached the tank Shalit shouted “I am a Jew, I am a Jew” because he thought the Hamas men were Israeli on account of their uniforms, one of the terrorists recounted.

One of the commanders shown in the video decided to take Shalit and retreat toward Gaza. After crossing through a break in the border fence, the terrorists made their escape with Shalit in two waiting pickup trucks.

Shalit was released on October 18, 2011 in exchange for over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners. The film included footage of Shalit before his release speaking to Israeli negotiator David Meidan via videophone and his transfer into Egyptian custody before being passed off to Israel.

The film also featured former Palestinian prisoners released in exchange for Shalit relating their experiences in Israeli jail, and expressing their hope while in prison that Hamas would kidnap another soldier in order to pressure Israel to release them.

Earlier Thursday, Hamas officials said they would try to kidnap more soldiers to gain the release of the rest of the Palestinian prisoners being held in Israeli prison. Israel refused to release several mass murderers and other terrorist chiefs in the 2011 deal.

On Wednesday, Israeli Channel 10 broadcast the first full-length interview with Shalit, showing him recovering from the ordeal of being in Hamas captivity for over five years.

Shalit, who was the center of rallies and marches as his parents and others lobbied Jerusalem to work for his release, said he had feared he would be forgotten while sitting in Gaza. He added that he passed the time by keeping to a “framework” and communicated with his captors through a mutual interest in sports.

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