First Memorial Service for Yom Hazikaron

IDF (Zahal) Spokesperson

The Chief of the General Staff opened the commemorations for the Israeli Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism Remembrance Day

Date: 14/04/2010, 8:23 PM    

On Wednesday (Apr. 14), the Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, opened memorial events ahead of Monday’s Yom Hazikaron, Remembrance Day for Fallen Soldiers. Following the regular tradition, Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi placed an Israeli flag on the grave of the most recently fallen soldier, late Maj. Eliraz Peretz, a deputy battalion commander in the Golani Brigade, who was killed three weeks ago in a fire exchange in the Kissufim area, and is buried in the military cemetery at Har Herzl.

The memorial service was attended by bereaved families, the Head of the Israel Police, Inspector General Dudi Cohen, the senior staff of the Israel Police, the Head of the Manpower Directorate, Maj. Gen. Avi Zamir, the IDF (Zahal) Chief Rabbi, Brig. Gen. Avihai Rontzki, and the staff of the Fallen Soldiers Center and the Soldiers’ Remembrance Unit.

The Chief of the General Staff spoke at the ceremony and said, “Here, between the thousands of gravestones and silent tombs, testimony to 62 years of struggle for our freedom as a nation and a State, we stand, year after year, in honor of the memory of our sons and daughters, whose song of life was muted prematurely and thanks to whose sacrifice the people of Israel can celebrate the gift of liberty and security in their own State

“A brave deputy battalion commander who always stood at the front line”

After placing the Israeli flag on the grave of Maj. Peretz, Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi said that despite the fact that only his name and military identity number are engraved on his tomb, behind them “stands the figure of a brave deputy battalion commander who always led from the front and who fell first in line. The loving father and husband, the bereaved brother who chose to walk the path of his sibling Uriel, may he rest in peace, and who kept to his brother’s values – the values of Zionism, service in the IDF (Zahal), camaraderie and faith – and who was buried, sadly, next to his brother.”.”

“In addition to Eliraz, in the battle that ended his life, late Staff Sergeant Ilan Saviatkovski, whose father Peter read the Kaddish [Jewish mourner’s prayer] five minutes ago, was also killed. The story of Ilan who immigrated to Israel from Uzbekistan with his family when he was four years old, and whose love for Israel made him volunteer for combat service in the Golani brigade; this story is a living expression for the deep decisiveness of our soldiers, and the devotion and strength characterizing them,” added the Chief of the General Staff.

The Israeli flag will be placed on 22,682 graves of fallen Israeli soldier

The Israeli flag, which in the coming days will be placed by IDF (Zahal) commanders and soldiers on all graves of Israel’s fallen soldiers, 22,682 altogether, “symbolizes the essence of the Israeli people’s aspiration for a national home, the hope to be a free people in our country, and the heavy price we have paid and continue paying in order to make that prayer become our reality,” said Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi.

The Chief of the General Staff added, “Maintaining our State and the IDF (Zahal), ready and sharp, is our guarantee to continue keeping war away from our country and to succeed in war, should it be forced upon us. It is guarantee for the Jewish people, that it will not have to add more graves to this memorial hill, where it lies in its final rest.”

Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi thanked the bereaved families and assured them that the memory of the fallen, “their personalities and their faces, the heritage of their lives and the circumstances of their deaths, will stay with us forever. Know that not only during ceremonies and in cemeteries, but every single day of the year, the IDF (Zahal) stands beside you, as supporting shoulder for you to lean on – a last oath to our comrades who did not return with us. No matter what, we, the Israeli people, will always remember our sons and daughters who fell during our missions. May there memory be blessed.”