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      IDF's Newest Pilots Receive Their Wings

      The 165th course of the Israel Air Force flight academy graduates in a special ceremony at the Hatzerim Air Base.
      By Elad Benari
      First Publish: 12/28/2012, 6:16 AM

      The 165th course of the Israel Air Force Flight Academy graduated on Thursday, and graduates received their pilot's wings in a special ceremony.

      The ceremony took place at the at Hatzerim Air Base near the city of Be'er Sheva and was attended by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Chief of the General Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, and IAF Commander Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel, as well as family, friends, and soldiers and officers of the IAF.

      "We all see what is happening in Syria," Netanyahu told the graduates. "The Syrian Air Force has attacked hundreds of Syrian civilians and they do not hesitate to use any means. Israel is monitoring developments in Syria and will do its utmost against this threat and against all threats.

      "Pilots, today you become part of the long arm of the State of Israel," he added. "We have greatly strengthened the muscles in this arm. Israel's hand is extended in peace to those who seek peace, and to those who threaten us – they should know that our long arm will strike forcefully in order to defend the State of Israel."

      Chief of Staff Gantz congratulated the graduating pilots, saying, "The hit that our enemies took and the damage that was caused to the operational infrastructures of the terror organizations were recorded largely thanks to the pilots that you have met, thanks to your instructors and commanders."

      "Today, you are joining them, into the Air Force that provides us in the IDF with the ability to carry out strikes surgically, with strength, flexibility, and decisiveness. Graduates, the next mission is your mission," added Lt. Gen. Gantz. "You are the guarantee that also in the future, against every necessary challenge, the Air Force and the IDF will stand ready, prepared, and determined to carry out the mission."

      Following the ceremony, Netanyahu met with Tamar, the first religious woman navigator in the IDF.

      Netanyahu said, "Tamar is an example of the equality between the sexes in Israel and proof that in the IDF there is place for all parts of Israeli society. It is important that more and more sectors become integrated into the IDF so that the burden may be shared more equitably and among more people."