Gallant: 'Gilad Shalit is still in Gaza'

Presence in southern Gaza meant to prevent movement of kidnapped soldier.

In an interview Wednesday afternoon, OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Yoav Gallant confirmed that kidnapped soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit was still in Gaza. He would not comment on exactly what information the IDF had concerning Shalit's whereabouts. He did say, however, that "Not everything we know, the press knows." In the conference, Gallant said that IDF troops in southern Gaza were meant to prevent transfer of the kidnapped soldier into Egypt or southern Israel. Although the mission to retrieve Shalit was the utmost priority, the IDF would also do all it could to prevent Kassam rocket fire, Gallant added. "Our main job is to defend the citizens of Israel who live in the south." Five minutes after the press conference, a Kassam rocket landed a few hundred meters from where reporters were standing. Gallant also rejected claims that the missile strike overnight on a Gaza power plant could create a humanitarian crisis, saying that the operation was focused strictly on terrorist targets. "The Hamas government is a government of terror, which has set for itself an agenda to destroy Israel and to kidnap soldiers," he said. "Our operation will focus on destroying terror infrastructure and preventing the transfer of Shalit out of Gaza." Alongside the military operation, Gallant said that diplomatic efforts were still underway, and Israel viewed positively foreign diplomatic efforts to help retrieve the kidnapped soldier.