IDF Chief, in Warsaw: Israel, Its Army Are Answer to Holocaust

Ashkenazi says story of 1944 ghetto uprising against Nazis of 'utmost importance' to IDF combat troops.

Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi on Tuesday said Israel and the IDF are the answer to the Holocaust, speaking next to the Warsaw bunker where Mordechai Anielewicz and his men led the 1944 uprising against the Nazis, according to Israel Radio.

Ashkenazi also spoke of the significance the Warsaw Ghetto uprising held for Israeli soldiers.

"The central story of the Warsaw Ghetto is a story of the utmost importance for IDF combat soldiers; and, therefore, we have come to pay our respects and salute those heroes who, despite the reality of the forces' relative [strengths] and despite the fact that they were untrained civilians, simply arose, fought and took action," Ashkenazi said.

The IDF chief placed a wreath at the site, and IDF Chief Rabbi Brigadier General Avi Ronsky recited El Maleh Rachamim, the Jewish prayer for the deceased.

On his first visit to Poland, Ashkenazi also said of the ghetto fighters' actions: "Today we call them principles and moral norms. The importance of victory is a norm of the IDF and a central part of it, alongside remembrance and study of the Holocaust."

Ashkenazi is set to meet with Poland's Defense Minister and Chief of Staff, and will participate in a series of ceremonies marking Holocaust Remembrance Day.

On Thursday, he will lead the March of the Living in Auschwitz and Brikenau, in which 10,000 people will participate from all over the world.

A large contingent of security forces, both Polish and Israeli, have been deployed to guard the chief of staff during his visit, and police also blocked major traffic arteries in Warsaw to allow his entourage easy passage.

The heavy security is in part due to security officials' fear of terrorist attacks on Israeli delegations abroad, particularly in the wake of the assassination of Hezbollah terror chief Imad Mughniyah in February.

Earlier this month, President Shimon Peres delivered an address at a ceremony marking 65 years since the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, stating that peace is the way in which Israel must avenge the horrors of the Holocaust.