Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Tuesday that Israel was working to release captive IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, but would not do so "at any price."
Speaking to high school students in the south on the first day of the new school year, Barak said, "The State cannot guarantee your well-being or guarantee that you won't be taken captive. You are enlisting in the army to fight. This isn't Western Europe. Here only those who don't blink in the face of kidnappings, Qassam attacks and military cemeteries survive."
Amid reports that a prisoner exchange deal between Israel and Hamas was nearing completion, Barak said, "Not at any price. The State of Israel's best minds are working daily in an effort to bring Shalit home. It is a good thing that the public is demanding his return, but I suggest that Israelis not look at the situation in terms of a loss of way. We have faced difficult trials in the past and will face more in the future. We mustn't lose our cool and resilience."
In response to Barak's comments, Noam Shalit, the captive soldier's father, said the family expects "more actions and fewer words."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told students at a Modi'in school, "We will bring Shalit home as soon as possible; we are continually thinking and working towards that end."
Shalit was kidnapped into Gaza on June 25, 2006.
Ron Sofer contributed to the report