Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz addresses the IDF on the return of SFC Gilad Shalit
IDF soldiers and commanders, in regular and reserve service:
On June 24th, 2006, Team 2, from the 188th armored brigade in the "Barak" division of the Infantry Corps left for operational activity along the Gaza border, near Kerem Shalom. During the course of their mission, on the morning of June 25th, the tank's crew came under attack by terrorists. During this attack the tank's commander, Lieutenant Hanan Barak and Staff Sergeant Pabel Slozker, may they rest in peace, were killed. Staff sergeant Roei Amitai was injured and Staff Sergeant Gilad Shalit was abducted. Today, upon the return of Gilad Shalit to his country, his nation and his family, their mission is completed.
During the five years in which Gilad Shalit was held captive by Hamas, IDF soldiers and commanders never cease their efforts to advance his return. Together with other security authorities, we have done all that is possible on the intelligence, operational and political levels. Over these years we have time and time again looked into the eyes of the Shalit family and vowed that we will not rest until their son has returned.
The entire process, and the efforts of the negotiating team in particular, emphasize the commitment of the State of Israel and the IDF to do whatever is necessary to bring back an IDF soldier who was sent on a mission and did not return. This commitment is derived from the IDF value of camaraderie, which is and will always remain a core principal in the IDF operational and moral code. This commitment reflects the value of responsibility, dedication to the mission, our utmost commitment to our soldiers, which is second to no other military in the world, and perhaps most of all- the sanctity of life.
This difficult decision was made by the Israeli Government and carried out after considering all factors and with a full understanding of the heavy toll. Our hearts go out to the families of those harmed in the various terror attacks and we pledge to continue our constant effort to defend the State of Israel.
To the IDF's soldiers and commanders:
Israel's enemies constantly attempt to harm the citizens of Israel and Israel's sovereignty. The IDF will stand firm and with resilience against all threats to the State of Israel. We are prepared to face any challenge emanating from this agreement and will firmly operate against anyone who endangers our state and our citizens.
We will continue to do everything in our power to bring back all those missing or held captive. We pledge to their families that we will never tire of our efforts and will examine any shred of information regarding their whereabouts. That is our duty.
SFC Gilad Shalit:
The commanders and soldiers of the IDF respect you and are proud of your tenacity and resilience throughout these years. We will continue to support you for as long as you need.
On behalf of your fellow soldiers, who carry on their shoulders your generation's guardianship of the country, whether in the land, sea or air, in their offices or in the field, throughout the country, whether in their tanks, or artillery batteries, in their planes or in their ships – in the name of the whole of the IDF, I congratulate you and your family upon your return to us.