During Operation Protective Edge, many of the IDF (Zahal)’s units worked 24/7 to ensure the safety of Israel’s civilians, but some units operated in order to ensure the safety of the Palestinian population in Gaza. One of these units is the Coordinator of Government Activity in the Territories (COGAT). To thank the unit’s soldiers for their outstanding service during the operation, a special evening was held in their honor last week.
The COGAT unit is responsible for implementing the government’s policy in Judea and Samaria and vis-à-vis the Gaza Strip. As part of the unit’s responsibilities, it facilitates the activities of international organizations active in Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip including in matters pertaining to infrastructure, education, health and housing projects and the implementation of humanitarian aid programs. In addition, COGAT leads the coordination and liaison with the Palestinian Authority and with the Palestinian population.
“The latest events [the recent wave of terrorism] are ones that may generate anger,” said IDF (Zahal) Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz. “Yet, precisely during these difficult times, we will not lose our humane values and we will continue to implement actions that cannot be taken for granted. These actions derive from dedication to our values, as well as from a strategic understanding.”
“We must continue to act as we did during the recent operations on every front, and we will continue to face every challenge with great determination,” he added. “We will not compromise when it comes to achieving our goals and to maintaining the security of Israel’s civilians, but as difficult as it may be, we must remember that there are human beings on the other side. The day we forget this will be the beginning of the end.”
During the operation, the COGAT unit coordinated between the IDF (Zahal) and the Israeli government, and Palestinians and international organizations. Civil Operations Officers joined IDF (Zahal) forces in Gaza in order to provide them with the civilian point of view, a crucial factor of urban warfare. “During the operation we saw the forces enter under fire, and then suddenly, a minute later, they would be dealing with civilians and humane situations,” said Lt. Gen. Gantz. “This is what makes the IDF (Zahal) so unique, and what makes your [COGAT soldiers and officers] jobs so important.”
The COGAT, Maj. Gen. Yoav (Poli) Mordechai also spoke to his soldiers throughout the evening, addressing the security situation. “Our preparations now will determine the future. We cannot rest because of the success of the operation. On the contrary; we must stand guard and continue to improve our capabilities, because the real test is during times of war. Time works against us, yet we are still invested in the most important task: saving human lives, both Israeli and Palestinian.”