Israel reiterated its determination to retrieve Gilad Shalit from captivity in the Gaza Strip.
“I phoned the Shalit family and promised, in all of our names, that we will do everything to bring Gilad Shalit back home — alive, healthy, in one piece, and as quickly as possible,” Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told his Cabinet in broadcast remarks Sunday.
The repatriation of slain Israeli troops Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev from Lebanon last week under a swap deal with Hezbollah has spurred calls for the Olmert government to expedite the return of Shalit, another soldier who was abducted to Gaza by Hamas-led gunmen more than two years ago.
Hamas has refused to budge from its demand that Israel free hundreds of jailed Palestinian terrorists in an Egyptian-mediated exchange for Shalit. The Olmert government, which came under some domestic criticism for releasing five jailed Lebanese terrorists as part of the deal with Hezbollah, has ruled out the trade proposed by Hamas as too asymmetrical.
“I don’t have to tell you that it’s not simple. It’s not easy. Just as we labored for two whole years, day in and day out, to bring back Udi and Eldad, may they rest in peace, we are doing the same thing for Gilad Shalit,” Olmert said. “We will not be still or silent until he comes back.”