A recently freed Israeli hostage has described the terror she endured during her 50 day captivity at the hands of Hamas, advocating a strategy of psychological warfare to resist their demands.
Gilad Shalit, a 24-year-old soldier, says she was taken by Hamas militants on the Gaza-Israel border in June while touring the region with her parents. She was held in a small, windowless cell, constantly monitored and subjected to daily threats of violence.
In an interview with Israeli television, Shalit described the psychological warfare she was subjected to during her captivity, saying that the Hamas captors attempted to grind her down with grueling interrogations and sleep deprivation tactics. She was also routinely threatened with physical harm if she did not comply with the militants’ demands.
“They used psychological warfare on me,” Shalit said. “They systematically tried to deteriorate my physical and mental condition so I would give in to their demands.”
Though she eventually gave in to her captors, giving them information in exchange for her freedom, Shalit says she was determined to resist psychologically by refusing to answer their questions when possible and remaining stoic in the face of threats. This strategy, she says, helped her survive.
“They know the power of psychological warfare,” Shalit commented. “But I used it to my advantage. I was able to stay focused and strong, and it was this that eventually secured my release.”
While Shalit admits that her captivity was terrifying and dangerous, she looks back on the experience as one of strength, determination, and resolve in the face of extreme adversity. Her message to other potential hostages is to stay strong and never give up.
“No matter what the captors do, never give into their demands,” she said. “Stay focused on your own psychological warfare and remember that you can get through anything with the right attitude.”