Barak: Not only negotiations can free Schalit

Says he is not worried over "difficult decisions" to be made to release kidnapped IDF soldier.

schalit in uniform 248.88 (photo credit: Courtesy of Gilad Schalit's family)
schalit in uniform 248.88
(photo credit: Courtesy of Gilad Schalit's family)
Following months of failed negotiations, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Sunday that talks with Hamas were not the only way to secure the release of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Schalit. "We have a moral responsibility to do everything possible to bring Gilad Schalit home," Barak said during a meeting of Israeli youth at Tel Aviv University. "This does not mean at any price but it does mean that it can be done not just through negotiations." The "best minds" in the IDF and the intelligence community are working on the Schalit issue, Barak said. He added that "difficult decisions" will need to be made to release Schalit, who was abducted by Hamas in June, 2006. The defense minister said that he personally had overseen operations to release IDF captives. "As a field commander, and a combat soldier, I led people to battle... I saw people killed next to me, and I commanded operations to release soldiers," he said. Earlier in the day, IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi told a group of new IDF recruits that the IDF was doing all it could to retrieve Schalit. "We still have a mission in the South and that is to obtain Schalit's release," he said during a meeting with the new recruits at the Tel Hashomer Induction Center. During a tour of the base, Ashkenazi was asked about the planned evacuation of the disputed building in Hebron and said that the IDF would uphold the rule of law in Israel. "It is of utmost importance to uphold the rule of law and we will deal with outlaws," Ashkenazi said. "I regret some of what has been said that contradicts Jewish tradition but in the end our job is to uphold the law this is what we will do." Ashkenazi said he preferred to resolve the standoff through dialogue but would use force if needed. We will do our utmost to resolve this peacefully, but at the end of the day the law is the law and we will uphold it," he said.