Chief of Staff thanks AWIS for supporting soldiers

Lt. Gen. Gantz to the Association for the Wellbeing of Israel’s Soldiers: “The soldiers know that you’re on their side”

Date: 25/12/2012, 7:39 PM     Author: Yael Zahavi

A celebration honoring the Association for the Wellbeing of Israel’s Soldiers (AWIS) was held yesterday in Tel Aviv, marking the 70th anniversary of the organization’s founding. Attendees included Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Chief of the General Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, Head of the Manpower Directorate Maj. Gen. Orna Barbivai, and AWIS chairman Brig. Gen. (res.) Avigdor Kahalani.

“I came today to thank you from the bottom of my heart, on behalf of the government of Israel, on behalf of the senior leaders of the defense establishment, and on behalf of the citizens of the State of Israel,” said the Minister of Defense. “The Association has turned into an exceptional organization over the years, reflecting an important principle in our history and heritage: All of Israel is responsible for one another.”

The event began with the presentation of an exhibit showing AWIS’ activity over the years – from the pre-state period until today – featuring historical pictures, forms, and rare posters. The presentation was followed by the main ceremony.

“It is important to me to express, on behalf of the soldiers and commanders of the IDF (Zahal), our deep appreciation for you and your activity,” said the Chief of Staff. “Your support and encouragement give them confidence that the people of Israel appreciate their activity during peace time and in combat. They know that you are on their side and that they have someone to watch over them.”

Lt. Gen. Gantz also praised the support AWIS provided for soldiers during Operation Pillar of Defense. “Also during Operation Pillar of Defense, you stood behind the soldiers and commanders; in just several days after the beginning of the operation, tens of thousands of packages were transferred to the soldiers in the field and relief complexes were set up for them. The enlistment is testimony to the solidarity and and to the admirable and important mutual responsibility that existed, still exists, and will continue to exist in the face of the challenges that we still face.”

AWIS has continually provided support to soldiers since the organization’s establishment in 1942. It was initially devoted to assisting Jewish soldiers in the British military during the Second World War. Today, with a staff of roughly 2,500 volunteers, AWIS spends roughly 180 million NIS each year on projects in support of the soldiers of the IDF (Zahal).