Israel will never make light of existential threats against it in light of the Holocaust and thousands of years of struggle for Jewish survival, IDF Chief of Staff, Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz, said during the March of the Living Holocaust memorial at Auschwitz-Birkenau on Monday.



“As military force at the cutting edge of modern technology and operational capabilities, we know full well that enemies who attempt to harm our civilians – are asking for their own demise,” Gantz said. “Our strength and determination has increased through this long march, thus there is no weapon or evil intention which can stand against the army of the Jewish People,” he added.

The chief of staff also said that “it is important to remember that the dove of peace has accompanied us through our journey since the covenant of Abraham.”

Gantz described a route of Jewish heroism which “began with the flight of a child who stole a loaf of bread for his family in the ghetto dying of hunger, with the mother who shielded her son with her body despite the bullets of the murderers. It continues with the valiant attacks of the partisans, the fighters in the ghettos, camps and Jewish Brigade that stood up against the Nazis and their accomplices, armed with simple weapons and immense strength of spirit.

“It continues with these survivors joining members of the Jewish settlement to build a state, and fighting for its existence and security; in the battlefields and the heritage of seven wars and countless operations – both public and secret – that we have known in our 65 years of independence,” he continued.

Gantz vowed that “never again shall a calamity such as this transpire in our world.

There shall never be a second Holocaust. We will not forget nor will we allow it to be forgotten.

And we will surely never, ever stand again unready to defend ourselves!” Earlier on Monday, Gantz visited the Holocaust monument at Krakow’s Jewish ghetto.

During its visit, the IDF delegation encountered another Israeli delegation, from the Justice Ministry, which was being led by a survivor of the Birkenau death camp.

IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, who was with the military delegation, related the ensuing meeting in a column published on Channel 2’s web site.

“The survivor shook the chief of staff’s hand, and asked, ‘Where were you 65 years ago?’” wrote Mordechai. “We lowered our heads. A chill went through us, and this time, it wasn’t because of the freezing cold.

We ask this of ourselves, too. The heart grows wider with the understanding that we will be here far longer than the next 65 years. We won’t let these questions be asked again.”

Mordechai wrote: “Here, on the ground of Birkenau, after 30 years of service, most of it in the field, I feel full of purpose and pride.

The IDF’s presence here is testimony, that from the fire, ash and war, we grew and turned into a powerful nation.”

Gantz spoke at the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland on Sunday, on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, saying that, “Israel ensures that a horror such as this will not recur.” Gantz added, “The IDF is the defensive shield of the national home – a safe haven for the Jewish people.”

The IDF chief said he was proud, in the name of Holocaust survivors, “to learn the lessons of the past in order to ensure the safety of the future.”

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