A year after his release from Hamas’ clutches, Israel Defense Force soldier Gilad Shalit gave his first interview to Israeli Channel 10 News, in which he described fending off hours and years of boredom by playing sports, making up games, writing, and drawing maps of Israel, YNet News reported.
“I’d make up games for myself, sprots stuff mostly. I would also write and play Scattergories,” Shalit said. “I tried to be optimistic. I tried to focus on the little, good things I had there,” he said in the transcript of the interview. He also said the captors treated him well, played chess and dominoes with him, and “hardly abused me,” the AP said.
He also described bonding with his captors over sports. He described watching an Israeli soccer game with his Hamas guards when an Israeli player scored a goal. “They were stunned by the goal. They were amazed by the fact that an Israeli team could play that way," Schalit recalled. "This is one of the things that helped me stay sane there.”
Shalit was captured in 2006 while serving the mandatory three-year term in the IDF that all Israeli men must. One of his greatest fears in his five years in captivity, he said, was that he would be forgotten.
In October 2011, after other channels of negotiations failed, Israel agreed to release 1,027 Palestinian prisoners being held in Israeli jails in exchange for Shalit. Shalit was escorted to the Egyptian border by Hamas guards and turned over to Egyptian authorities.
“Once I got out of the care and was handed over to the Egyptians, there was a sense of relief,” Shalit said in the interview. “All of a sudden I saw all these people around, hundreds of people after not having seen more than a few people all these years.”
On Friday, a Hamas minister called for more kidnappings of Israeli soldiers.
Maya covers the U.N., Europe, and the Middle East for IBTimes. She joined the company in July 2012 after having previously worked with DNAinfo.com and Gawker.