The IDF is one of the worlds most moral militaries
23 March 2009 , 19:17
Chief of the General Staff speaking to new recruits of the Combat Engineering Corps
Chief of the General Staff speaking to new recruits of the Combat Engineering Corps. Photo: IDF Spokesperson
Dikla Schneider and Arnon Ben-Dror

I dont believe that IDF soldiers hurt civilians intentionally, in cold-blood, said the Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, during his visit at the IDF Induction Center on Monday (Mar. 23).  Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi was speaking about the publication of  testimonies regarding the alleged hitting of civilians during Operation Cast Lead. The IDF is one of the worlds most moral armies, and if there are isolated incidents, they will be investigated and dealt with, he added.

We operated in a very complex atmosphere that is also inhabited by civilians, and we took every possible measure to minimize harm to civilians. We scattered leaflets over the Gaza Strip, warned civilians to stay clear of areas that were to be attacked by making use of the Arabic press, and called hundreds of thousands of households. But in an environment like this, some harm to civilians is unavoidable, continued the Chief of the General Staff.  Israels citizens need to be proud of the IDF soldiers who carried out their missions at their best. We succeeded in intimidating Hamas, and the missile firing has seriously decreased recently. I hope that this will continue. If not we know what to do.

Moreover, Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi explained that the March draft is has shown the largest increase in voluntary enlistment to serve in combat units in the last five years, and that 80 percent of the recruits chose to these units as their preference. In these units, we even have more than we need. Regarding the issue of service refusal, the Chief of the General Staff said that we will reduce this phenomenon as much as possible.

I see it as my obligation as Gilads commander to continue to operate towards his return. He added: Even at this hour, the efforts to bring him back continue in every possible way, but it is not right to elaborate on the matter, said Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi regarding Gilad Shalit, a kidnapped IDF soldier.

Accompanied by the Head of Personnel Directorate, Maj. Gen. Avi Zamir, the Commander of the Engineering Corps, Brig. Gen. Moshe Sheli Cohen, and the Commander of Meitav, Col. Gadi Agmon, the Chief of the General Staff met with the new Combat Engineering Corps recruits. If we want to serve the State of Israel, we must protect it, and I think that it is very important that a group of men like you is going to serve in our combat units. He praised the Engineering Corps and its operations during Operation Cast Lead, answered the questions of the recruits and wished them a successful draft. In the last operation as well, the Engineering Corps played an integral role on the battlefield; they were lead by the best commanders, who will soon instruct you.

Towards the end of his visit to the Tel Hashomer military base, the Chief of the General Staff inaugurated the new national Information and Service Center that began operating three weeks ago. The new center, which includes 45 phone posts, focuses on answering the questions of future IDF soldiers throughout the country. The new centers aim is to put an end to the current situation in which a lot of requests of future soldiers are dealt with by the regional recruitment centers and to increase efficiency by dealing with these issues in one place.

Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi and Head of the pre-army branch of Meitav, Lt. Col. Dudi Goldner

Over the course of his visit to the new center, the Chief of the General Staff conversed on the phone with one of the future soldiers, who was very surprised. Are you going to be a combat soldier for the Border Police? asked the Chief of the General Staff. Good luck. What a great service you have, said the surprised future soldier, with the Chief of the General Staff