The Chief of General Staff: “We did not lose the right to defend ourselves”

Let. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi spoke to high school students in Jerusalem about the importance of serving in the IDF (Zahal) and the recent increasing tension in the Gaza Strip.

Date: 29/12/2010, 11:56 AM     Author: IDF (Zahal) Website

“We will not allow a situation in which our citizens and towns are being fired at from a safe area among citizens. We did not lose the right to defend ourselves. During the next war, we will do everything we can to minimize injuries amongst civilians as we have done in the past.” The Chief of General Staff Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi said this on Sunday at a meeting with students from the High School for the Sciences and Arts in Jerusalem while addressing the recent tension in the Gaza Strip.

“When comparing with other nations and their armies, the residents of Israel should be proud of the ethics and purity of fire arms that our soldiers uphold,” emphasized the Chief of Staff, also addressing the issue of release efforts for the kidnapped IDF (Zahal) soldier, Gilad Shalit by adding that “As long as Gilad Shalit is in captivity and does not return home, our mission is not complete. The IDF (Zahal) will do everything possible to bring Gilad home. Since we are the ones who sent him, we are committed to bring him back. We put our people in danger in order to bring Gilad home, with many of our efforts conducted away from the public eye.”

Regarding the status of soldiers currently serving in the IDF (Zahal), Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi said: “The number of youth enlisting into the army who temporarily postpone their service [due to Shnat Sherut, volunteering for a year of community service] has doubled. We were at a level in which we did not have enough people enlisting for the time being.” Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi clarified that “The IDF (Zahal) is not against Shnat Sherut and next year, we will reevaluate our position on the matter. ” Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi added that in recent years, over 90% of positions in the IDF (Zahal) have opened to women.

During his visit, the Chief of Staff highlighted the importance of the bond between the IDF (Zahal) and Jerusalem, Israel’s capital. “It’s not just another city” explained Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi, “The IDF (Zahal) sees itself as an integral part of Jerusalem’s history, thus it is important that each soldier visit Jerusalem at least once. That’s why this visit to the youth is important. We come from the people and return to the people. That’s the meaning of a peoples’ army.”

“The IDF (Zahal) offers you endless possibilities to express yourselves, and donate to your country,” concluded the Chief of Staff to the students. “I urge that you make your service a meaningful one. The challenges, the tests you will encounter, the friends you’ll meet, the experience you gain-this is part of the tools you will gain for the university of life.”