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Gantz Takes Over as IDF Chief of Staff

February 16, 2011
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“In your own way and with great success, you advanced the building of the IDF’s strength in the face of the future’s challenges and commanded the IDF with determination in the face of massive and challenging operational challenges, both open and secret. You are handing me and the IDF commanders a strong, determined, disciplined, professional and alert army for continued development and nurturing.”

He thanked the prime minister and defense minister for “their faith in me” and said it was his privilege to assume “this important mission of commanding the IDF. This is an exciting day for me. This is an exciting day for the IDF and the State of Israel.”

Gantz concluded by saying, “More than anything, I am accompanied today by the memory of all of the IDF’s fallen soldiers. My friends who fell and their family members, (kidnapped soldier) Gilad Shalit and all the missing soldiers, whose return we seek.”

The first to speak at the ceremony was outgoing Chief of Staff Ashkenazi. “My work was inspired by the statements of the late [Prime Minister] Yitzhak Rabin, who said that a state cannot be built though headlines and TV appearances. A state is built through small, daily acts,” he said.

“We didn’t build the IDF, but we tried to rebuild the trust of the compulsory and reserve soldiers in the system, their pride and feeling of capability, and as important—the people of Israel’s faith in their army. We established the power of deterrence and the training routine, the firing ability and the equipment storerooms.”

Addressing the army’s activity in the past four years, Ashkenazi said: “Together we all took part in a war which changed its look, a war which turns the home front into the front and the residents into fighters. Together we conducted a persistent war against all the messengers and senders of the axis of evil, which sought to smear the IDF.

“I believe that, in the complex battlefields we have fought in—the heart of the Mediterranean and the crowded communities of the Gaza Strip on the northern border, in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank]—we presented the firmest response to all of our enemies, and thanks to the determination and dedication characterizing the IDF and its fighters, we began restoring our residents’ security and restoring calm in their homes.”

The outgoing army chief concluded by wishing his replacement success: “Benny, I have no doubt that your unique calm and abilities will help you recruit the IDF’s soldiers and firmly and safely navigate our vessel of security to a haven of rest. We all believe in you. Good luck.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu wished Gantz success. “Benny, today you are receiving the wand of command. You have all the skills to succeed in this important mission. You are well familiar with the IDF, and the IDF is familiar with you.”

He mentioned the recent developments in Muslim countries. “An earthquake is rocking the Arab and Muslim world, and we still don’t know how things will end,” the prime minister said. “Those who wish to destroy us are still here, and so are we. We are strong because the IDF is strong. There is no one who understands this context better than you, Benny.”

Netanyahu noted that Gantz’s mother weighed 28 kilos (62 pounds) when she was released from the Bergen-Belsen [holocaust] concentration camp. “I am convinced that she never dreamed that 66 years later, her son would be 20th chief of staff of the State of Israel’s, the Jewish state. Perhaps she never dreamed of it, but this dream is being realized before our eyes today.”

Defense Minister Barak thanked Ashkenazi in his speech. “I would like to thank you for four decades of service and especially for the past four years, which strengthened the IDF, boosted its preparedness, and projected its deterrence, and to wish you good luck.”

Gantz was accompanied to the ceremony by family members and friends. Revital Gantz wished her husband success. “We are with him and support him. I hope he will be an army chief of peace, and if he has to use forces, I hope he will do it wisely and with discretion.”

As he left his home in the central city of Rosh Haayin on Monday morning, Gantz said that “the smiles end today and the hard work begins this afternoon, and we’ll do it.” After receiving his new rank, Gantz visited the Western Wall with Ashkenazi, and the two said a joint prayer. Citizens present at the holy site wished the new army chief success in his new role.

The two then traveled to the Kirya Base in Tel Aviv, where the traditional ceremony was held. At first, the new army chief reviewed the honor guard and then proposed a toast with the defense minister. Ashkenazi told Gantz during the ceremony, “Nothing prepares you for this great responsibility.”  

He mentioned the Kassam rocket which hit the western Negev earlier, pulled out a book and said, “I am handing you the book of Gaza targets.” On Thursday, Gantz is expected to hold a first evaluation of the situation and different discussions on the IDF’s future plans.

Posted on February 16, 2011

Source: (Excerpts of an article by Omri Efraim, Hanan Greenberg, Attila Somfalvi, Boaz Fyler and Roi Kais contributed, Ynetnews, February 14, 2011)

Photo Credit: Photo by Isranet

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