Defense Minister Ehud Barak sharply reiterated on Wednesday his position on the negotiations to release Gilad Schalit after he was criticized over comments he made the day before.
Speaking in a ceremony at the Tel Nof army base, Barak said that the "IDF, its fighters and its commanders defend the state, and when necessary do so at the risk of their lives."
"Soldiers enlist with the knowledge that their devotion to their mission includes their willingness to sacrifice themselves," continued the defense minister.
"Leaders and commanders have a moral responsibility, no matter how hard you try to sugar-coat the basic truth: We are a nation of fighters, our ability is everlasting, and this ability will be proven," asserted Barak. "In the Middle East there is no mercy for the weak and there will not be a second chance for someone who doesn't know how to defend himself."
On Tuesday, Barak toured a high school and was asked by one of the pupils whether Israel could ensure the safety of its soldiers. Barak came under fire over his response, when he told the pupils to "stop whining" and "not be spineless."