'Israel won't pay any price for Schalit'

IDF manpower head says state should consider consequences, then weigh Hamas's prisoner list.

Gilad Schalit 248.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Gilad Schalit 248.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Israel should work to bring back kidnapped IDF soldier Cpl. Gilad Schalit, but must not pay any price for his freedom, OC Human Resources Maj. Gen. Elazar Stern said Sunday. Speaking to high school students in Tel Aviv, Stern said "Israel should pay a high price to bring back Gilad .. but there is also responsibility towards the citizens of the state." Stern told the students that he clearly expressed his opinion on the matter to members of Schalit's family. "Noam Schalit didn't like what I had to say to him," he said, adding that releasing many terrorists would only lead to renewed attacks. "There are limits to what we are willing to do," he said. However, Stern added that "as a state, we are responsible for doing everything to bring the boys back home … but if we open the jails and release killers, who, from past experience, may go back to murdering soldiers and civilians, then we need to take this into account." Stern blamed Israel's policy over the last 30 years for the delays in reaching an agreement on Schalit. "If we would have acted differently, Gilad would have already been at home. They would either not have kidnapped him or the price we would need to pay would be much lower," he said. Stern expressed hope that Schalit and the other two captives, Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, held by Hizbullah, would return home "as fast as possible." Last week, a senior diplomatic source who had reviewed Hamas's demand list admitted that "the price tag Hamas put on Schalit makes closing a deal very difficult. "Anyone who sees the list, including those willing to make a big sacrifice, would agree that it is too steep a price to pay." In other news, Stern said Tel Aviv had a poor record of enlistment for service and that the city had a lot of headway to make in that field. "I think there is a lot of room for improvement," he said.