Israel's President at Memorial Day Ceremony: We'll Protect IDF From Any Controversy

Speaking in Jerusalem, Reuven Rivlin calls for a society which 'will not allow every split to strike root among us' ■ IDF chief of staff: 'Atop the walls of the land stands a formidable army'

Israeli soldiers stand in formation during a ceremony to mark the annual Memorial Day for Israel's fallen soldiers at the Western Wall, Tuesday, April 17, 2018
Sebastian Scheiner/AP

President Reuven Rivlin said on Tuesday that Israeli society must not let every split "strike root among us" and that the people of Israel will protect the IDF from any controversy. The president was addressing bereaved families at the central Memorial Day ceremony at the Western Wall Plaza in Jerusalem, commemorating the "fallen soldiers of Israel and victims of terrorism."

"We will never stop working for the country your children died for. To join our hands in the name of the recognition: 'Brothers we are,' again and again and again," said the president, "into the foxholes we leapt not as left and right, in the trenches we didn't lie as periphery and moshav, we did not storm our enemies as kibbutzim, villages and cities."

"We will continue to be a society that will hold back, without fear and without mercy, any enemy that objects our right to our homeland, and at the same time, (a society) which will not allow every split, polarization, distance and alienation to strike root among us," Rivlin added." A society which will know to press on and debate, but remembers that the IDF and its commanders are us, all of us, and will protect it from any controversy."

Rivlin's words were followed by speeches from IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot and representatives from the bereaved families. Eisenkot emphasized the importance of the army's stature in Israeli society. "It has been seven decades now that the IDF's position as an official people's army has been the greatest component of its power."

"The shared values of patriotism, mutual comradery and warrior brotherhood overcome any gap," he said, adding that "even in the hardest of times, the IDF remains a steadfast pillar that draws its strength from all its members: The townsman and the one from the country and kibbutz, the secular and the religious, Bedouin, Druze and Jewish."

Eisenkot noted that "even now, we know the road goes on. Our enemies seek to establish their strength across the borders, to topple the sensitive life fabric and harm the sovereignty of the state. Facing any threat – our soldiers stand strong at the fighting and technological frontlines, and prove that atop the walls of the land stands a formidable army; an army that wields unprecedented capabilities and strives for a reality of security and prosperity."

Earlier Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed a Memorial Day ceremony in Jerusalem. "It is thanks to the fallen and those who tread in their stead that we are here. We are the living part of the fallen, they ceased and we continue in their mission. When we build, they are with us. When we plant, they are with us. When we create, they are with us," said Netanyahu.

"On this day we stand shoulder to shoulder as a united people that see clearly the foundations of its life and existence. The mutual responsibility connects man to his brothers – Jewish, Druze, Bedouin, Muslim, Circassian," he continued. "Only thus will we defend our lives, our flourishing homeland, the achievements of our state – the fruit of all our generations' labor."