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