Gen. Ashkenazi (right) and Gen. Camporini
Gen. Ashkenazi (right) and Gen. CamporiniIsrael news photo: IDF

IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, speaking at the Arch of Titus 1940 years after the Roman Empire destroyed the Second Holy Temple, declared, “We are here, on the eve of Tisha B’Av, the day the Jewish Temple was destroyed by Titus, and together with the Jewish Community we say, ‘The Nation of Israel lives.’”

He also told senior editors of the Italian media, “Hizbullah duplicates sections of southern Lebanon underground, and is building an underground infrastructure of command centers and rocket launchers, mostly within the Shiite villages in southern Lebanon, as well as other parts of Lebanon."

The IDF Chief of Staff warned that "throughout Lebanon, including in southern Lebanon, residential villages were turned into 'surface-to-surface rocket villages,' while Hizbullah is taking advantage of the local population and the lack of UNIFIL's mandated authority, to strengthen its command centers and rocket launchers inside the villages"

Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi said in his speech at the Arch of Titus, "Despite all the misery and horrible tragedies that struck us since the destruction of the Second Temple and our exile, the Jewish People were able to re-establish their national independence in 1948. The Israel Defense Forces, which I'm proud to head, carries the responsibility for the security of this independence.

“The IDF, as a large, strong and deterring army which draws on its physical and morale strength, is the force that stands prepared against all of our enemies and those who seek to harm us. It is the force that when required, will prevent tragedies, like the one commemorated by this arch".

Earlier Monday, he met with his Roman counterpart, Chief of Defense Staff of Italy, General Vincenzo Camporini.

Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi also met with the Italian General Staff and discussed expansion of cooperation between the two armies on the war on terror, urban warfare, maritime fighting and aerial fighting. He thanked his host "for the Italian government's assistance and support for Israel in light of the recent campaign to delegitimize the IDF and the Zionist movement".

Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi will meet and address the Jewish Community of Rome Monday night.

The Arch of Titus is famous for a relief that depicts Jewish captives carrying the Holy Temple's Menorah to Rome. The Arch, opposite the Coliseum where Jewish captives were forced to fight gladiators and lions, honors Titus' conquest of Jerusalem. Despite the debacle,  the captives' descendants are still extant as the Jewish people, whereas the original Romans have disappeared..