An IDF soldier rides an armored personnel carrier toward a staging area near the Gaza border.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The IDF made a last-minute decision to award soldiers from the 52nd armored “Bok’im” battalion with citations for their role during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza.
The decision was approved by OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Shlomo Turgeman hours before the citation ceremony began at Palmahim Air Force Base on Monday evening, in which 54 soldiers and officers had originally been chosen to receive citations for bravery in the Gaza conflict.
The “Bok’im” battalion is part of the 401st “Ikvot Habarzel” armored brigade, and worked throughout the ground offensive on a range of missions in the Gaza Strip. The army said its actions resulted in many operational achievements during the conflict.
The IDF also added St.-Sgt. Meir Oterberg, a soldier from the Givati infantry brigade’s reconnaissance battalion, to the list of decorated soldiers. It sent a letter of appreciation to the Tzabar battalion of the Givati Brigade for its role in the summer conflict as well.
Addressing those who won citations, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said the “torch of bravery” has been passed from one generation of IDF soldiers to the next, and that last summer “it was placed in our hands, when you went out to fight with your friends against Hamas and the other terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip. They set themselves the goal of disrupting the lives of the southern residents and to kill us because of who we are.”
Ya’alon praised the soldiers and officers for acting calmly, bravely, with wisdom and initiative, “while exhibiting leadership and fearlessness, knowing that you could pay with your lives for your acts, but prepared to defend your friends and Israeli civilians with your bodies, and not in order to win a citation or decoration.”