Members of Kibbutz Gazit in the Jezreel Valley have confirmed that Ben Zygier, a.k.a. Prisoner X, was a "lone soldier" – or soldier who left his family in his native country to make aliyah – in the Israeli Defense Forces and that the kibbutz served as his home during his service.
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“Ben Zygier stayed here during his military service and had a bond with the kibbutz," said Rivkah Viland, a Kibbutz Gazit chairperson. "It was not a very tight bond, and I do not think he stayed in touch with anyone from the kibbutz. He was one of the many lone soldiers who were given a warm home on our kibbutz during their service. He was in need of a home he could stay in during his leaves, and that’s what he got here. But there was no special bond formed beyond that, no friends or adoptive family.”
Zygier was reportedly an Australia-born Mossad agent and the Prisoner X who hanged himself in Ayalon Prison on December 15, 2010.
Viland said that like all Israelis, she was interested in the affair but that she would not describe herself as shocked or surprised, since Zygier was not well known to the kibbutz.
“We remember a name and a face, but not more than that, and we don’t remember him well, where he served, in what unit or any other details," she said.
Another member of Kibbutz Gazit remembered Zygier as “a very smart boy who made an impression as a gentle person with a kind soul. There was no special bond with him, and I don’t remember where he served in the army.”
Tzvika Levy, who heads the Lone Soldier Project for the kibbutz movement, said Wednesday that he was shocked upon hearing of the affair.
“Suddenly I made the connection, and realized that Ben Zygier arrived to Kibbutz Gazit as a lone soldier about 13 years ago, along with two other young men from Australia. I remember his friends went to serve in the Armored Corps, and he wanted me to help him get into the paratroopers. He served for two and a half years, even though his age required him to serve only six months. For that, he had to sign a form, agreeing to lengthen his service."
Levy said Zygier was “a lone soldier, with no discipline problems. Towards the end of his service he became frustrated and awaited his release and had some health problems, including stress fractures.”