"I write to you with a heavy heart," Netanyahu began the letter. "I belong to the bereaved family of terror victims. My brother was killed in the operation for the release of hostages in Entebbe. I know that you are experiencing negative feelings, that the wound of bereavement has been reopened these days and that you can't stop thinking about it.
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"In my many deliberations throughout the negotiations, you were always on my mind," he added. "The decision to release Gilad Shalit was one of the most difficult ones I have ever made. It's difficult for me for the same reason it's difficult for you, dear family members."
Netanyahu with negotiator David Meidan (Photo: Amos Ben Gershom, GPO)
"My decision to bring Gilad home was affected by the commitment of an Israeli prime minister to return a soldier sent on the State's behalf to defend its citizens. When I went to battle on behalf of the State of Israel, I always knew that the State of Israel does not abandon its soldiers and citizens.
- For the full letter click here
"My strong desire to return a captive soldier home was faced by the need to reduce the heavy price the State of Israel was required to pay upon Gilad Shalit's abduction more than five years ago.
"I know that this price is especially heavy for you," Netanyahu wrote to the bereaved families. "I understand the difficulty to perceive that the vile people who carried out the cruel crime against your loved ones will not pay the full price they deserve.
"In these moments I hope you find comfort in the fact that I and all the people of Israel embrace you and share in your pain," he concluded.
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