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After Shalit, pledge to bring home other missing soldiers

    Gilad Shalit with Lt Gen Benny Gantz
    Gilad Shalit with Lt Gen Benny Gantz

    The chief of staff for the Israel Defence Forces has vowed that the army will "continue to do everything in our power to bring back all those missing or held captive".

    Lt Gen Benny Gantz's comments, made in a personal message to IDF servicemen and women, came at the end of a day of celebration for many Israelis because of the return of Gilad Shalit.

    While Sergeant Shalit has been returned home safely, the whereabouts of other Israeli soldiers deemed missing in action remain unknown. One, Yehuda Katz, has been missing since June 1982.

    Lt Gen Gantz emphasised Israel and the IDF's commitment to doing "whatever is necessary" to retrieve its missing soldiers.

    "This commitment is derived from the IDF value of camaraderie, which is and will always remain a core principle in the IDF operational and moral code," he said.

    "It reflects the value of responsibility, dedication to the mission, our utmost commitment to our soldiers, which is second to no other military in the world, and perhaps most of all - the sanctity of life."

    In a pledge to the families of those soldiers who remained missing, he said: "We will never tire of our efforts and will examine any shred of information regarding their whereabouts."

    Lt Gen Gantz said the army would continue to support Sergeant Shalit for as long as he needed. He also referred to Lieutenant Hanan Barak and Staff Sergeant Pabel Slozker, who were killed on June 25 2006 when Hamas terrorists captured Sergeant Shalit.

    "Today, upon the return of Gilad Shalit to his country, his nation and his family, their mission is completed," he said.

    Earlier today, Sergeant Shalit was reunited with his family. Tonight he will spend his first night in more than five years at his home in Mitzpe Hila.

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