Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit heard the sound of battle around him during a massive 2006 military operation seeking to free him from his Gaza captors, his father said on Thursday.
"He was aware of the operation and everything that was going on," Noam Shalit told journalists outside the family home in the northern Israeli village of Mitzpe Hila, two days after Gilad was freed in exchange for a total of 1,027 Palestinian prisoners.
"He was in immediate proximity to all the events and the sound of war," he said, adding that he did not ask his son how he felt at the time. "I imagine that it was no picnic, to be in a situation where F15 and F16 aircraft are flying over you and bombing everything that moves."
The military campaign launched in June 2006, three days after Palestinian militants -- including members of Hamas -- captured Shalit in a raid into southern Israel, lasted five months and left more than 400 Palestinians dead.
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Asked by a reporter to comment on Hamas assertions that Gilad had not been tortured, his father said that the Islamist group's statements should be taken with "a pinch of salt."
"At least at first he went through some tough things, I won't elaborate here," he said. "After the first six months to a year, his treatment improved."
He said that Gilad was kept in isolation, without seeing the sun for five years, but was allowed to listen to Israeli stations on the radio.
Thursday was the Jewish festival of Simhat Torah and Noam Shalit said that Gilad spent the day chatting to friends, riding his bicycle and playing table-tennis.