Defense Minister Ehud Barak
visited the Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva on Monday and met with IDF troops injured in Operation Cast Lead
in the Gaza Strip.
During his visit, the defense minister said Hamas
was dealt a blow that created "the deterrence that is now enabling this calm".
Thanking the soldiers, Barak said, "It's heartwarming and inspiring to see our injured, the smiles and the strength.
"These boys and their comrades are the ones that dealt Hamas a blow it has never known before, the deterrence that is now enabling this calm, on the one hand, and the preparedness for every possible development and every scenario."
Earlier Monday, President Shimon Peres paid a visit
to soldiers at the medical center.
During his visit, Peres spoke of the difficult images being broadcast from the shelled-out Gaza, saying, "When people ask me about it, I answer that for our image to be good, we have to stay alive."
was also asked about the criticism being leveled at Israel for its Gaza offensive, Operation Cast Lead.
"To those who protesting against Israel I ask – where were you for eight years when the Gaza vicinity communities and the south were being shelled non stop? Why didn’t we hear you then?"
When he visited Eitan Kariti, a Givati soldier who was wounded by a bullet to his leg, the president said, "I don't know if I trust the observers. I trust one thing only – on the blow that you, the soldiers, dealt to one of the least humane organizations in the world."
Just minutes before Peres entered Kariti's room, the soldier admit that he is honored by the visit, but that, in his opinion, the battle objectives were not achieved, "The first thing we wanted to achieve is the release of Gilad Shalit,
and, of course, and end to the rockets. In my opinion, we didn't achieve what we wanted."