Defense Minister Benny Gantz
Defense Minister Benny Gantz Elad Malka

On Sunday evening, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi participated in a special ceremony at IDF Headquarters in the Kirya in Tel Aviv, presenting 32 officers and soldiers who excelled in their IDF service with certificates of appreciation. The ceremony had been postponed from Rosh Hashanah, and was held in accordance with Health Ministry coronavirus regulations.

Speaking at the event, Gantz emphasized the importance of diversity among the IDF’s ranks, alongside maintaining excellence in all its units. “In recent years, we have been engaged in a number of processes which will be continuing,” he said. “What we are endeavoring to do is to give more to those who contribute more – not merely in financial terms, and not just in better conditions of service, but also terms of expressing our appreciation. We also want to upgrade our relationships with soldiers’ families during their service and beyond. And another goal we are aiming for is that of increasing diversity within the army, primarily in the technological units but also throughout the ranks.”

Gantz added that, “We are also conducting special preparations for the hopefully positive consequences that will result from transferring military intelligence units to the Negev region, in addition to the units that are already there. We intend to implement programs for younger recruits, so that youth from the south of the country will be able to integrate into military intelligence units and will remain in the Negev region throughout their service and even beyond. All these programs embody the Zionist vision of the IDF as a whole and benefit the entire security establishment.”

Turning to the contentious topic of the Draft Law for legislating service of haredim in the IDF, Gantz said: “The State of Israel needs a new broad-based outline for recruiting to the army. Ever since I entered my current position in the Defense Ministry, I have been working on developing such an outline, one that places the needs of the IDF first and foremost, but also allows for civilian service that answers to the needs of Israeli society as a whole. We are not looking at this question simply as a legislative issue or one of achieving equality, but rather, as one of addressing the social and security-related needs of the State at the present time, and also looking ahead to the coming decades. And I can promise you this: Even if it doesn’t happen right away, I will do my utmost to make sure it does happen in the end. This is what the IDF needs – this is what the State of Israel needs. Passing a narrow Draft Law is not the right approach to be taking – we need a new Law with a broad vision that takes all the needs of the IDF and Israeli society into consideration.”