Gantz: We won’t agree to be under constant threat (JERUSALEM POST) By YAAKOV KATZ, MELANIE LIDMAN 04/25/12)
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The State of Israel will not agree to live under constant threats
like those emerging from the ongoing upheaval in the Middle East, IDF
Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz declared Tuesday night during the
official state Remembrance Day ceremony at the Western Wall.
Gantz spoke just minutes after sirens sounded throughout the country
at 8 p.m. and people bowed their heads to mourn the 22,993 soldiers
who have fallen in defense of Israel since 1860 – the year the first
Jews left Jerusalem’s Old City walls to settle other parts of the
In the past year, 126 soldiers and security personnel died in service
of the state. On Wednesday, the main memorial will take place at
Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl Military Cemetery.
A two-minute siren will sound at 11 a.m., and ceremonies will take
place at an additional 44 cemeteries around the country.
The Defense Ministry said it expects over 1.5 million people to visit
the cemeteries throughout the day.
“After the fog of the revolutions began to settle, we began to see a
different Middle East presenting new challenges,” Gantz said. “In
this new, dubious reality, we witness attempts by our enemies, both
far and near, to harm everything we’ve built.”
He used his speech also to stress the importance of serving in the
“We have an obligation to overcome the social gaps, to stand united
and to serve in the military. Only this way will we be prepared for
every challenge,” he said.
President Shimon Peres, who spoke just before Gantz, tried to comfort
the bereaved families and said that the country’s amazing
achievements were the results of their personal sacrifices.
“Your sons and daughters will not return to you... Their bravery has
left us alive, but their deaths have left us broken,” he said.
Earlier, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addressed more than 200
soldiers and bereaved families gathered Tuesday for the Yad LeBanim
Memorial for the Fallen in Israel’s Wars.
“For bereaved families, time stops when you get the terrible news...
it cuts your life in two: what was before, and what will never be
again,” he said. “When you hear the siren tonight, we will turn into
one family, and the citizens of Israel will be united in our
Joining him at the ceremony were chief rabbis Yona Metzger and Shlomo
Amar, as well as Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin and representatives of
the police, army and Home Front Command.
Yad LeBanim (“A Memorial for the Sons”) is the organization that
supports bereaved families in cooperation with the Defense Ministry
and official government bodies. The Jerusalem memorial, located near
the government quarter, is the central memorial for soldiers killed
in action in the capital.
Netanyahu spoke to the bereaved families as “my sisters and
brothers,” drawing on his own experience of losing his brother
Yonatan in the 1976 Entebbe rescue mission.
Nava Cohen, who lost her brother in the Yom Kippur War and her son in
Hebron during the second intifada, spoke on behalf of the bereaved
“We are always looking for more parts of our son,” she said. “We’re
always trying to gather another sentence, another memory, another
photograph, so that we can continue to live with our son.”
Cohen said the hardest part was following the chain of photographs –
from childhood through school and bike trips and finally to the
soldier in uniform – until the photos stop abruptly.
“Today, memorial day, is a day when all of Israel is united in the
remembrance of these soldiers,” she said.
“Every story, from every soldier, is a story of his life and also a
story of the nation of Israel.”
She also pleaded with the Defense Ministry not to combine the branch
that supports bereaved families with other government ministries,
where it could be overlooked.
The prime minister will speak at both the official Wednesday morning
ceremony for the fallen, and the state ceremony for the victims of
terrorism in Israel and abroad.(© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post
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