Outgoing IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi summed up his four-year term Wednesday evening, in a ceremony for his benefit held by the IDF Disabled Veterans' Organization at Beit HaLochem, Tel Aviv.
"I leave behind me a professional military, imbued with values and proper norms and focused on its one and only mission," Ashkenazi said. "the IDF is stronger than all of the processes going on around it."
The chief soldier added: "The IDF does not belong to anyone privately. The IDF belongs to all of us."
Ashkenazi extolled the contribution of IDF disabled veterans to the security of Israel, and disclosed that as a young officer, he, too, spent time in rehabilitation at Beit HaLochem after being wounded in Operation Litani. "We all stand behind the disabled vets in 'the war that follows the war' - the long and difficult rehabilitation process," he said. "In this war, the IDF will continue to hold you close to its heart all along the way."
Ashkenazi refrained from directly discussing the heated standoff between him and Defense Minister Ehud Barak over the failed appointment of Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant as his successor, but he was evidently referring to the clash of wills in some of his statements.
In television interviews Wednesday evening, Barak denied that Ashkenazi's term was being cut short. However, analysts said that after Galant's appointment was canceled, the normal course of action should have been the extension of Ashkenazi's term until another successor was found. Instead, Barak insisted that Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh be appointed as "temporary chief of staff" - a position that does not exist, formally. The analysts see the decision as stemming from Barak's inability to continue to work with Ashkenazi.
Minister Barak hinted at his anger
in the interviews on the next IDF head, saying: "There are ethical matters involved here, normative and even professional matters of the first degree. In order to maintain the dignity of the military and the position of IDF Chief of Staff, I do not wish to elaborate."