GAZA CITY, Gaza City - A leader of the Palestinian militant group that captured the Israeli soldier swapped this week for more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners said Saturday that the soldier was treated well during his captivity.
Zuhair Al-Qaisi of the Popular Resistance Committees told The Associated Press that Gilad Schalit was given sufficient food and allowed to watch Hebrew-language TV.
Schalit was notably gaunt, pale and exhausted when he was freed. His father says his son is suffering from malnutrition, the effects of isolation and lack of exposure to sun and also wounds sustained during his capture that had not been treated properly. Noam Schalit also said his son "endured harsh things" in his more than five years of captivity in Gaza.
Al-Qaisi dismissed the accusations, saying that Schalit was provided food that "fits him as a Jew," by which he appeared to mean kosher food.
"The way Schalit looked when he was released proved that he was treated well," said Al-Qaisi. "He used to watch the news through the television and through watching some of the channels in Hebrew."
Since his return Schalit has been meeting family and friends, and taking walks and bicycle rides around his home in Mitzpe Hila, a small village in northern Israel. Well-wishers from across the country have flocked to the tiny community to catch a glimpse of the soldier who became a national figure while in captivity.
But many Israelis were also critical of the steep price Israel had to pay for his freedom. Schalit was freed Tuesday for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners, many of whom had been convicted of involvement in deadly attacks on Israeli civilians.
Of the hundreds of prisoners released in the first part of the two stage swap, many have called for more violence and abductions.