This morning, Maj. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi was appointed to become the 19th Chief of General Staff, and was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General
Nikolai Avrutov | Eliezer Ben Lulu
Lt. General Ashkenazi received his appointment at an official ceremony this morning, attended by the Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Minister of Defence Amir Perez, other ministers, members of the parliament, general staff forum, and other guests.
t noon, a festive ceremony took place at the “Kirya” base in Tel-Aviv, attended by senior army officials. The exiting Chief of General Staff, Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz congratulated Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi and his deputy Maj. Gen. Kaplinsky, and wished them both lots of success in their new roles.
Among the hundreds of guests and soldiers who came to same goodbye to the old and welcome the new Chief of General Staff, were the parents of two soldiers who were kidnapped and murdered in 2000: Beni Avraham and Adi Avitan.
“I feel today, like a public emissary in Yom Kippur: flustered and excited”, said Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi. “I am aware of the grave responsibility. The greatest challenge that lies ahead is improving our operational preparedness. We are committed to the implementation of lessons learned at the Second Lebanon War. Having said that, we should not forget the courage, initiative, and commitment to the goal, exhibited by every single soldier at that war, despite the problems and the deficiencies. To all IDF soldiers and its commanders: I know you all so well, I know what you are capable of, and I have my fullest confidence in you. The eyes of our nation are upon you with pride. How fortunate we are to be blessed with such wonderful people”.
The exiting Chief of General Staff, Lt. Gen. Halutz said in his speech: “I lost many of my friends over the years. IDF fighters, friends who lost their lives at the wars of Israel, friends who sacrificed their lives for the country, together with the wounded – they all raised the flag, which I am passing to you today. This is a flag of independence, a symbol of our relentless struggle to preserve our life and existence in this country”.
“Our strength lies in our military and social abilities”, he continued. “To my colleague Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi, I wish you all the success you can hope for in this role. I am certain you will continue your good work for the country. As I step down, and leave the army, I will become an ordinary citizen, and will put my complete trust in IDF and its soldiers to protect me and our people – whatever comes next. I solute you all and I say shalom and goodbye”.