IDF Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, offered words of consolation to bereaved families on Tuesday, and also underscored the security threat which Israel is constantly facing.
Gantz, who spoke at the opening ceremony in honor of Memorial Day at the Western Wall plaza, told the bereaved families, “The pain which beats in the empty space of your heart has no date or time of day. No one but you can testify as to how deep it is, how shaking it is. This is a pain that brings you back to that fateful knock on the door of your home. That moment broke your life in half, and now you have ‘life before’ and ‘life after.’”
He added, “We, who accompany you all the time, know that a lifetime has been reduced to a few days when any action was the last - the last embrace, the last smile, the last prayer that they return safely. As commander of the Israel Defense Forces, on behalf of my fellow officers and on behalf of all the soldiers, I stand in front of you tonight, look into your eyes, embrace you, and promise to fulfill the eternal testament of those who were most dear to you – to protect you, to protect us all, to protect our home.”
Gantz then spoke about the security threat, saying, “As the fogs of the revolutions begin to set, it is clear that we are looking at a Middle East which is different than what we have learned to recognize in recent decades. On the ruins of the old strategic map, new and significant challenges are forming.
“In this reality we are witnessing the attempts of our enemies near and far to hit all we have built,” said Gantz. “The State of Israel since its establishment has not accepted and will not accept a threat to its citizens. Along with the longing for peace, the IDF stands firmly against these threats; a strong, trained and prudent army; a determined army advanced army, ready for any battle and every task.”
Gantz was preceded by President Shimon Peres, who said that, 64 years after it was established, Israel still has enemies who seek its destruction.
“Israel was born out of a big dream and it has built a reality that has exceeded the size of the dream,” said Peres. “But still we must build and defend Israel. I dream of being able to just be a man of good news, I wish I could come here and tell you that the hatred towards our country has ceased. That our enemies have been defeated, that we will live only in peace, now and forever. But, unfortunately, we haven’t yet reached this.”