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Thursday, March 11, 2010
IDF Chief of the General Staff Delivers Speech at Annual FIDF Conference in United States

IDF Spokesperson March 10th, 2010

IDF Chief of the General Staff Delivers Speech at Annual FIDF Conference in
United States

The Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi was the guest of
honor and delivered a speech at the annual Friends of the IDF (FIDF)
conference which took place yesterday, March 10th 2010, in the United

Below are key phrases from Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi's speech:

"Distinguished guests; Friends of the IDF, I stand before you today, not
only as the Chief of the IDF's General Staff, but as a warrior who has lost
many friends in the battlefield, and who has personally felt the agony of
war. I stand before you today as an Israeli citizen, determined in the
belief that my country, the nation-state of the Jewish people, has a right
to freedom and security. But also, I stand before you as the commander of
our nation's guarding force. I'm full of pride in our army, and the
remarkable way in which our soldiers fulfill their missions.

Throughout the past year, our soldiers have demonstrated their devotion and
courage in varied circumstances; Courageously, our navy soldiers took over
the Francop, an arms smuggling ship, which was making its way from the heart
of the radical axis in Tehran, to terrorist organizations in Syria and

But at the same time, we react to other challenges. The very same soldiers
that act against terror are those who established the first field hospital
in Haiti.

Proudly, we witnessed the men and women of the IDF, saving the lives of so
many who wouldn't have survived otherwise.

But our soldiers do much more; men and women from throughout the military,
who come from so many religions and different backgrounds, embody the
ethical code of the IDF, on a daily basis. They demonstrate respect for
human dignity and value human life, regardless of the enemy's cruelty.

Our soldiers join ranks in the pursuit of the national objectives of Israeli
society - developing the Negev, contributing to the community, expanding the
Jewish and Zionist heritage and shaping the national identity.

As the commander of our soldiers, I tell you upon this stage: We will win
over those who seek our destruction. We will win thanks to our soldiers'
courage and because of their moral compass.

Tonight, I am honored to present to you "the dream team of the IDF": 30
officers and soldiers representing the air, the ground and the navy. They
came especially to tell you about their experience in the IDF, and to
personally thank you for your support.

Today, we mark two years since Staff Sergeant Liran Banai, may his memory be
blessed, a fighter in the Givati brigade's, was killed after stepping on an
explosive device in the Gaza Strip. Liran's parents were born mute, and he
was their voice and connection to the outside world. Liran's parents are
with us tonight.

Also with us tonight, is Staff Sergeant Tal Shabbat, from the Navy seal
unite, who was severely injured three and a half years ago in an operation
in Beit Hanoun.

I met Tal two years ago in an IDF delegation to Poland, where IDF soldiers
and commanders visit the ghettos, concentration and death camps, where
millions of Jews were sent to their death. For them, this visit is a
reminder of the fact that even though we often pay a heavy price, evil can
be beaten. Together with Tal and his friends, I stood at the
Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp and there I swore "never again", knowing full
well, that still today, there are people who wish to wipe the Jewish State
off the map.

It is the IDF's job, to make sure that our vicious enemies will not succeed
in doing so.
And they will never succeed. Never.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Despite the relative calm of the past year, which rises from the deterrence
attained during Operation Cast Lead and the Second Lebanon War, we face
highly complex security threats that we have never faced in the past.

The main threat on world's peace remains Iran, which is gradually achieving
nuclear capabilities, while funding and equipping terrorist organizations in
the Middle East and throughout the world. These reflect the Iranian attempts
to harvest regional instability through its proxies: Hezbollah, Hamas and
other terrorist organizations.

Therefore, the international community must stop the Iranian nuclear program
for its own sake, while all options should remain on the table.

In the face of all these threats, stands the Israeli Defense Force; In order
to further strengthen the IDF, we have created the multi-year "Tefen" plan.
In addition, we keep developing advanced weapons and technologies, and
increasing the number of exercises and trainings; we continue to raise the
combat-readiness of IDF reservists.

We are doing so in order to ensure that we are ready for any threat, from
near or far.

But it is our soldiers, Israel's finest, who guarantee that we will stand
strong and united for the next 62 years, and long after that.

Dear Friends,

Along our journey to peace and security, we gain strength by knowing that
you and the American people are by our side. The special relationship we
share is based first and foremost on an intimate and powerful ideological
bond. Our friendship with the United States is demonstrated in so many ways.
Just this morning, I met with the Chairman of the Joint Chief Admiral
Michael Mullen to discuss our cooperation. Another example was Juniper Cobra
10, an exercise which tested elements of the joint active missile defense
system. These steps represent significant progress in expanding the
dialogue, collaboration and readiness of the two armies.

As Pesach - the holiday of freedom is approaching, let us all remember that
not everyone will be free to celebrate the Seder with their loving families.
Gilad Shalit was abducted by Hamas terrorists more than 3 years ago. Let's
hope that by Passover, Gilad and all other abducted and missing soldiers
will be celebrating the Seder at home with us.

With the conclusion of his speech, the Chief of the General Staff thanked
the FIDF for its cooperation, support and friendship.

He gave all conference participants a symbolic gift which quoted the
country's prayer for peace, written by the Nobel Peace Prize laureate,
Shmuel Yosef Agnon.

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