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Locating the whereabouts of Gilad Shalit after his capture in 2005 was a near-impossible task, MK Gideon Ezra (Kadima ) said this week. "If the Israel Defense Forces had entered Gaza, all hell would have broken loose. Israel made huge efforts to try to locate him and were unsuccessful," said Ezra, who as West Bank commander of the Shin Bet security service, managed to locate abducted IDF soldier Nachshon Wachsman in 1994. Wachsman was kidnapped in central Israel by Hamas militants and killed during the attempted rescue less than a week later.

Wachsman was held just outside of Jerusalem in a Palestinian village under Israeli control.

Ezra noted the contrast with the case of Shalit, who has been in captivity in the Gaza Strip, which is under full control of Hamas. "It's impossible to know where Shalit is," Ezra said, adding: "In my opinion, Shalit himself won't be able to say where he was. The team that has been guarding Shalit is a good team, from the standpoint of its ability to hide where he is being imprisoned."

"Wachsman, on the other hand, was hidden in a village in Samaria where the houses were isolated and widely separated houses from one another rather than a refugee camp in the Gaza Strip with houses right next to one another," Ezra explained, noting that, though it was not easy at find Wachsman, once he was located, Israeli commandos who sought to rescue him were able to approach the house where he was being held without anyone in the village noticing.

Ezra said everyone in the defense establishment other than Ezra himself initially believed Wachsman was being held in the Gaza Strip, adding that it was nearly by chance that the soldier was located in the West Bank village.