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Last of Shalit captors dies in Gaza tunnel collapse

Hamas releases names of 5 guards of IDF soldier during his 5-year captivity in Gaza; all are now said to be dead

Released Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit (second right), walks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (second left), then-defense minister Ehud Barak (left), and ex-chief of staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz (right), at the Tel Nof air base in southern Israel, October 18, 2011. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry/Flash90)
Released Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit (second right), walks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (second left), then-defense minister Ehud Barak (left), and ex-chief of staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz (right), at the Tel Nof air base in southern Israel, October 18, 2011. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry/Flash90)

Hamas on Tuesday night released the names of the five operatives who guarded IDF soldier Gilad Shalit during his five-year captivity by the Palestinian terror group in the Gaza Strip.

The five Hamas members — named as Sami al-Hamaidah, Abdallah Labad, Khaled Abu Bachrah, Mahmoud Rashid Daoud, and Abd al-Rahman al-Mubashar — were involved in the abduction of Shalit and have all since been killed, according to Arabic reports. The last of the Hamas kidnappers, al-Mubashar, died last week in a tunnel collapse.

Shalit was captured in 2006 in a cross-border attack and held hostage by the Gaza-based group until October 2011, when Israel freed 1,027 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for his release.

A year after Shalit was freed, Hamas released a video dramatizing and documenting the abduction and the killing of two other IDF soldiers in its June 25, 2006, terrorist raid into Israel.

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. The film concluded with previously unseen footage of Shalit handed to Egypt by Hamas strongman Ahmed Ja’abari.

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.

Members of Hamas's Izz ad-din al-Qassam Brigades (photo credit: Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
Members of Hamas’s Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades (Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

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.

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

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