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      IDF Chief of Staff: We’re Studying the Jolts in the Middle East

      Independence Day: Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and Defense Minister Ehud Barak address the General Staff in a special toast for the holiday.
      By Elad Benari
      First Publish: 5/5/2011, 11:59 PM / Last Update: 5/6/2011, 4:14 AM

      IDF Spokesperson

      The IDF’s General Staff Forum held its traditional toast on Thursday, ahead of Israel’s Independence Day (Yom Ha’atzmaut) celebrations which will take place next Tuesday.

      During the ceremony, which took place at the IDF’s Rabin Base in the Kirya in Tel Aviv, Chief of Staff Benny Gantz thanked the IDF’s commanders and soldiers for their tireless efforts to ensure the safety and security of the land and people of Israel.

      “These are not ordinary days,” said Gantz. “The Middle East is undergoing jolts and changes and we are studying them in depth.

      “In addition to celebrating our independence,” added Gantz, “we must also remember those who have died in Israel’s wars as well as their families.”

      Gantz concluded his remarks by wishing all Israelis a happy Independence Day.

      Also present at the toast was Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who said that he is “happy to meet all the members of the General Staff right before Yom Ha’atzmaut. We are all steering the wheel of the most important field – the security field. I do not think that there is a body in Israel that is so much appreciated by the citizens for the way it fulfills its mission.”

      Barak added that “the momentum of activity, in circles both near and far, and the extraordinary success of the Iron Dome system are a correct response and a step in the right direction. We must continue and deepen our activities in all areas.”

      Barak also addressed Israel’s upcoming Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism, which will be observed on Monday, and noted that “we are all obligated to remember and remind others of those who are no longer with us.

      "Each of us is accompanied by these wonderful people who fought alongside us and were killed, and this gives us direction and strength.

      “63 years is not a short period of time but in the life of a nation it is very short. I wish for all of you to continue the important tradition of moving the IDF forward, maintaining security, and maintaining a commitment to service norms. May we all have a happy Independence Day,” concluded Barak.