Despite the relative quiet in northern Israel in recent years, the threat posed by Hizbullah remains, Minister Yaalon said Wednesday evening. Yaalon spoke at a memorial for the 73 soldiers killed in a helicopter crash over Kibbutz Dafna 16 years ago.
“The 73 fallen sons embody the complexity of our lives here,” Yaalon said, “and our struggle, which, sadly, is not yet over.”
“We are a people that loves peace,” he continued. “That is how we raise our sons and daughters.” Addressing bereaved families at the event, he said, “That is how you raised your children who fell while on a mission to protect the communities of the north.”
“The war against the state of Israel sheds its form and takes new forms,” Yaalon continued. “From a war between armies to a terrorist war, missiles or rockets, a war which every few years shifts the focus to a new region.”
While northern Israel is now enjoying relative quiet, “we must not be lulled into false hopes,” Yaalon warned. “Hizbullah is armed with tens of thousands of rockets and missiles and is supported by Iran,” he explained, “and in Syria the civil war and instability continues, and is likely to bring unrest to the border near to where we stand right now.”
“Now, too, the best of our sons and daughters are ready to deal with the threats from north and south, from near and far, and with our enemies’ unwillingness to recognize our right to exist in peace and security as the national homeland of the Jewish people, in any border” Yaalon declared.
Yaalon praised the families who lost children in the tragic crash. “Over the years I have met you, dear parents and families… I am awed by your bravery and by the way in which you have chosen to commemorate your fallen children, through events, education, travel, and gatherings,” he said.
“Alongside the tremendous pain and the incomprehensible loss, the memories that remain from the last meeting, of a smile, a glance, a hug, a warm body that is so badly missed - and in an era where our strength as a society is no less important than our military strength, and maybe more so – you know how to set an example for us, a victorious response to our enemies, and a symbol of human greatness that cannot be described in words,” he said.
“Blessed is the state that has you as its citizens,” he told them.