President Rivlin at Operation Protective Edge memorial
President Rivlin at Operation Protective Edge memorialMark Neyman

President of Israel Reuven Rivlin spoke Sunday evening at the memorial ceremony for the fallen soldiers of Operation Protective Edge, marking seven years since the operation.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Minister of Defense Benny Gantz and representatives of the bereaved families also participated in the ceremony.

“Operation Protective Edge was a battle for our homes. It was a worthy, just battle by a sovereign state protecting its citizens and returning normality to their lives. Seven years have passed. In recent weeks, during Operation Defender of the Walls, we have once again fought for our homes. Once again, we have fought for normality in our kindergartens and schools. In our homes, roads and fields. In the towns, villages and kibbutzim. Israelis faced thousands of missiles, once again aimed at children, old people, innocent men and women,” said the president.

He continued, “Hamas and other terrorist organizations must understand that anyone who opens fire on Israeli citizens will take fire from our forces, and we will use it as long as required, with determination and responsibility. We will ensure the security of all our people, across the country as a whole. This is the State of Israel’s duty and commitment.”

“There are among us soldiers for whom Operation Protective Edge was just the opening shot in another campaign that is quieter and no less difficult. These are the casualties who bear the physical and mental scars of that campaign. For them, the war is still raging. I send them my wishes for their recovery and take them to my heart, to our heart, including Itzik Sa’adian, whose swift and complete recovery we are all praying for. We remain committed to everything we can to bring back the bodies of IDF Lieutenant Hadar Goldin and First Sergeant Oron Shaul, may their memories be a blessing, and Avera Mengistu and Hisham a-Said, Israeli citizens held captive by Hamas.”

“Dear families, you have paid the greatest price and bear the greatest pain. There is no succor for your grief. Seven years ago, when the country was in the flames of Operation Defensive Edge - the operation that changed your lives and turned your world upside down – I took up my position of president on behalf of the Israeli people. I visited your homes. Too late, I got to know your loved ones who are no more. You told me about them, about their loves and their dreams. Together, we looked at pictures and videos. And I took a vow then to sanctify their memories. And with them, the memory of all of Isreal’s heroes,” said the president, adding that his term of office will soon end. “I want you to know that even as I conclude my presidency, I am not relieving myself of duty. For as long as I live, I will hold the fallen of Israel’s wars in my heart and work on your behalf, families. You are in my heart. May the memories of the fallen of Operation Defensive Edge be bound in the bond of life forever. The Lord gives strength to His people. The Lord blesses His people with peace.”