PM Netanyahu: We will continue to fight terrorism

Defense Minister Barak: This is an important and exciting day

Date: 18/10/2011, 4:04 PM     Author: IDF (Zahal) Website

Below are excerpts from the speeches of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak that were given at Tel Nof on Tuesday (October 18).

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:

“Citizens of Israel, today, we are all united in both joy and pain. Two years and a half ago, I returned to my post as prime minister and one of the most important, complex missions I found on my desk was to return Gilad Shalit home alive and well. Today that mission has been accomplished.”

“I know very well that the pain of the families of the victims of terrorism is too heavy to bear. It is difficult to see the miscreants who murdered their loved ones being released before serving out their full sentences.  But I also knew that in the current diplomatic circumstances, this was the best agreement we could achieve, and there was no guarantee that the conditions which enabled it to be achieved would hold in the future.  It could be that Gilad would disappear; to my regret, such things have happened in the past.”

“I thought of Gilad, of the five years in which he rotted in Hamas captivity. I did not want his fate to be that of [missing IAF airman] Ron Arad, who was taken captive 25 years ago and has not returned home since.”

“I would like to make it clear: We will continue to fight terrorism. Any released terrorist who returns to terrorism – his blood is upon his head.  The State of Israel is different from its enemies: Here, we do not celebrate the release of murderers.  Here, we do not applaud those who took life.  On the contrary, we believe in the sanctity of life.  We sanctify life.  This is the ancient tradition of the Jewish People.”

Defense Minister Ehud Barak:

“This is an important and exciting day for Gilad, IDF (Zahal) fighters and commanders and the entire people of Israel. Gilad Shalit has returned home.”

“We also remember today the late Lieutenant Hanan Barak and Staff Sergeant Pavel Slutzker, friends of Gilad who were killed in the same event in which Gilad was kidnapped.”

“Our hearts are broken with the families of terror victims. I know many of them personally and I understand their pain and their cries. We will do everything we can to ensure that the risks inherent in the return of prisoners do not materialize.”

“We live in a difficult environment. The fight against terrorism will continue.”