Chief of the General Staff speaks at memorial service

Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi spoke during a ceremony held for Israel’s Fallen Soldiers in Jerusalem on Monday evening (Apr. 18)

Date: 18/04/2010, 9:07 PM    

The ceremonies in memory of Israel’s Fallen Soldiers began on Monday evening (Apr. 18) all around the country. The main memorial service was held in Jerusalem at the Western Wall Square in presence of President Shimon Peres and the IDF (Zahal) Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, as well as senior government and IDF (Zahal) officials and bereaved families.

“I stand before you today as a soldier and commander, and during my 36 years of service I have grieved for the best… and I have returned from the battlefields with missing ranks. I understand the feeling of loss and yearning,” said Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi to bereaved families.

“On behalf of my friends who stood next to me during battles, on behalf of those who I had the privilege to meet only after their deaths, on behalf of our sons and daughters whose lives marked a central path in our nations life, in their names I stand here today as head of the Israel Defense Forces General Staff, I direct myself towards you with pride and salute their memory,” he added.

Lt. Gen Ashkenazi also said that, “As a member of the second generation after the Holocaust, who began his path as a combat soldier on the southern front in the Yom Kippur War and who fought for years in Lebanon, I met, and sadly continue to meet, the tormented gaze of families whose loss darkens their doorstep and know: The existence of the State of Israel is not an obvious thing. We must continue to guard it from enemies even as we strive to establish here a just, developing and democratic society, a society that sanctifies the values over which its sons and daughters went on their last missions.” Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi added, “May their memory be blessed.”

The Chief of the General Staff also recalled Maj. Eliraz Peretz and Staff Sergeant Ilan Sabyatkovski, who recently fell in the Gaza Strip during an exchange of fire with terrorists. He noted that one soldier was a bereaved brother who insisted on fulfilling his obligation in the IDF (Zahal), and the other was a combat soldier whose love for Israel compelled him to undertake a conversion process at the same time as serving in the army.

The number of fallen soldiers this year stands at 22,682. Since the last Memorial Day, 112 soldiers have been killed.