"This operation has hidden and known aspects, which is characteristic of such events," Galant said upon arriving Wednesday afternoon at an area near Kibbutz Mefalsim, where the Israel Defense Forces gathered ahead of entering the Strip as part of the operation.
"There are things that the media is not aware of. I can only promise that we will do everything it takes in order to return Gilad home. He is now inside the Gaza Strip. All the forces brought here were no brought for nothing," the commander said, adding that he cannot elaborate on new information regarding the abducted soldier.
Southern Command chief talks to reporters (Photo: Tzafrir Abayov)
The IDF operation in the Gaza Strip continued Wednesday. In the afternoon, Palestinians reported that the Israel Air Force struck a Hamas post in the southern Gaza Strip, near Rafah. There were also reports on a Hamas manufacturing lathe-shop which was hit in the area.
Since the forces entered the southern Strip, soldiers have also been searching for underground tunnels. Military sources reported that so far, gunmen in the area have not been resisting the operation, apart from an anti-tank missile being fired in the morning hours.
The forces north of the Strip are still waiting for a green light to enter Gaza.
Galant also referred to the entry of IDF soldiers into the Dahaniya area in the southern Gaza Strip Tuesday night, explaining that this place was not randomly chosen as the first point of entry, as it is close to the post from which Shalit was kidnapped.
"It also enables us to control the Rafah crossing and what is happening in it, as well as carry out other operations. This is only one dimension of our overall effort," he said.
IDF soldiers near southern Gaza Strip (Photo: Yaron Brenner)
Referring to the scenario according to which Palestinian civilians may be hurt during the IDF operation, Galant said: "The Palestinian Authority, headed by the Hamas-led government, is a terror government with a very clear agenda of eliminating the State of Israel. Operations have begun recently in a bid to hurt civilians and IDF soldiers. Unfortunately, civilians in the Strip may also suffer, but our operations are concrete against operational terror infrastructures and are aimed at preventing the soldier's kidnappers from moving."
Upon the start of the operation in Gaza to release the abducted soldier, a possibility was raised that the operation would also be used to fight Qassam launching cells.
Referring to this possibility, the commander said: "The mission to return the soldier is the most important. Nonetheless, the IDF also has a duty to protect the residents and citizens of Israel. We will not accept a reality in which one side fires and hurts civilians and soldiers, and this issue has no price."
Galant noted that no negotiations are being held with the terror organizations holding the soldiers, demanding that those holding information provide it.
Asked what will happen when the soldier is returned to Israel, Galant answered: "Calm will be answered with calm, while an attack on us will be answered with an attack which will be 100 times worse against the other side."