Netanyahu, in a short address to journalists at the entrance to the base, said that the country today was “united in joy and pain.”
“Two and a half years ago I returned to the Prime Minister's Office. One of the central and complicated goals that I found on my desk was to bring back our kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit safe and sound. Today that mission was accomplished.”
Netanyahu, describing the considerations he weighed in making the decision to agree to the 1,027 for 1 swap, said that as a soldier and commander he was often sent on dangerous missions, but always knew that if captured, the government would do everything in its power to bring him and his comrades home.
“As a leader who sends IDF soldiers every day to defend Israeli citizens, I believe that mutual responsibility is not just a slogan, but one of the foundations of our existence here.”
Netanyahu said that Israel stood by two demands in the Egyptian-mediated negotiations: that the Hamas leadership remain behind bars, and that most of those released be deported or sent to Gaza to distance them from their ability to cause more harm.
“Israel is different than its enemies, here we do not celebrate the release of murderers, here we do not raise on our shoulders those who cut off life. To the contrary, we believe in the sanctity of life. We sanctify life. That is an ancient tradition of the Jewish people. “
Defense Minister Ehud Barak addressed the media after meeting Schalit at Tel Nof, saying the prisoner deal in which terrorists were released in order to free the soldier brought with it many risks.
Barak stated that Israel would "act to prevent those risks from endangering Israeli citizens."
IDF chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz said that the return of Schalit was closure for the State of Israel, the IDF, the Schalit family and Gilad himself.
"The IDF will be with the Schalit family the whole way," Gantz said.
Kara: Kill Any Terrorist Who Returns to Israel
"We have to send all the terrorists out of Israel, and if they return to Israeli territory we must fire upon them," Kara said.
Kara added, "Any sensible person understands that the death penalty should have been given to the murderers of the Fogel family in Itamar. We must not make more deals that endanger the citizens of Israel."
MK Ronit Tirosh (Kadima) referred to pictures from Gaza and Ramallah, "Compare the weakened appearance of Gilad Shalit to that of the prisoners Israel released - they were full of energy."