(Communicated by the IDF Spokesperson)
In honor of the upcoming holiday of Passover, the IDF Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, addressed the soldiers and commanders of the IDF in a letter released this evening. The Chief of the General Staff discussed the value of freedom that is celebrated during the holiday. Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi related this value to the challenges faced by the IDF as it is required to protect the people of Israel and their freedom while fighting a terrorist threat that relentlessly uses civilians as human shields.
In the letter, the Chief of the General Staff wrote:
The ethos of the IDF is based on combining our strength with our righteousness; on the one hand, our need to hold a deterring sword against those who threaten to destroy us, and on the other hand, our continuous effort to reach peace. We fulfill this task with determination, while preserving out morality as Jews, as Israelis, and as followers of the 'Spirit of the IDF' [the IDF's ethical code].
"This ethos has been put to test in all of Israel's wars, as well as recently, during Operation Cast Lead. Following a long period of restraint, we emerged in a battle against Hamas and other terrorist elements, determined to protect our homes and people, and to remove the terror that threatened the residents of Israel's south. Our enemy used their people as human shields and as hostages, choosing to launch their deadly attacks from schools, hospitals, mosques, and houses, forcing upon us a battle zone where an uninvolved civilian population was largely present.
"We focused our fighting against these terrorists and their infrastructure, determined to mark the entire terrorist network and deliver it a severe blow, while doing our utmost to preserve the lives of our soldiers and avoid any harm to civilian populations unassociated with terrorism.
"This is the ideological and normative basis of our culture and identity. Thus, I was disturbed like many others by the so called 'testimonies' published by soldiers, describing unacceptable actions and intentional harm supposedly done to civilians. The testimonies were investigated and looked into thoroughly by the Investigating Military Police, and were found to be groundless and lacking any factual basis.
"If a shade of a doubt is to be uncovered that any deviations from the IDF's norms took place, they will be investigated and thoroughly dealt with. The IDF is determined to rigidly maintain its values and morality. This is where our strength lies. We will never embrace the ideologies of our enemies and will forever be loyal to the tradition and values of our people."
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