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The family of abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit on Tuesday criticized Defense Minister Ehud Barak for saying earlier in the day that Israel could not always save every kidnapped soldier.

"We expect from Barak less quotes and more action," the Shalit family said.

While touring schools in the Negev on Tuesday, Barak said Israel would do its utmost to secure the release of Shalit, "not at any price, but in every way."

"It's not a race to see who wants Shalit home most," Barak said, "The negotiations are harsh and sometimes cruel. We must also take into account future instances and opportunities."

When asked by students whether they could be sure the state would protect them once they begin their compulsory IDF service, the defense minister said:

"The state can't promise to protect your lives; we must protect ourselves with that regard. This is not western Europe," he said. "Whoever blinks and fails to protect themselves won't succeed."

"I will reiterate - we are doing everything possible to bring Shalit home, but not at every price. I urge everyone who wants 'any price' to consider that option through."

"I urge us all to continue to stick to the target and avoid letting ourselves fall into doubt and sorrow along the way," he added. "We have faced more difficult challenges."

Negotiations have yielded little result so far for the release of Shalit, who has been in Palestinian captivity since abducted by militants from the Gaza Strip in a 2006 cross-border raid.

The German mediator in the talks for Shalit's release has presented Hamas with a new proposal to which Hamas would have three days to respond, according to German weekly Der Spiegel.

Meanwhile, the London-based daily Al-Hayat reported over the weekend that Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshal is due to arrive in Cairo on Tuesday to approve a deal for Shalit's release.

Palestinian news agency Ma'an, however, says there has been limited progress in finalizing a prisoner-exchange deal.Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also refuted reports that a deal is just days away.

Der Spiegel reported that a new comprehensive proposal has been put forth for a deal between Israel and Hamas involving 450 prisoners in exchange for Shalit. This is identical to what was negotiated during the government of the previous prime minister, Ehud Olmert.

The German mediator, however, included a new element in the deal that is similar to the model used in the exchange with Hezbollah for two Israeli reservists, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. Accordingly, Israel would release several hundred Palestinian prisoners at a later stage, with no direct connection to the deal with Hamas. Israel would be committed to release more prisoners as a humanitarian gesture, but again this would not be part of the deal.

The gesture by Israel would not be linked to any timetable, and the release would be carried out at a time of Israel's choosing.

According to Der Spiegel, Netanyahu's government is the side that requested the involvement of the German mediator, several months ago. The magazine also said the mediator is from the ranks of Germany's federal intelligence agency and had begun talks with the various sides in mid-July.