President Reuven Rivlin visited the Gaza Strip on Thursday and met with officers of the forces fighting in Operation Preventive Edge.
Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gant briefed Rivlin, after which the president told the officers that they were doing holy work in saving countless Israelis lives from Hamas massacres.
“I am here to thank you in the names of hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens,” he said.
In the words of encouragement that he offered to Gantz and Maj.-Gen. Sami Turgeman, head of the IDF’s Southern Command, Rivlin said: “Your achievements are obvious.
You have dealt Hamas a severe blow, and you are leading our soldiers wisely and courageously.”
Rivlin also spoke of his visits to hospitals across the country, and told the officers how he had been impressed by the attitude of the wounded soldiers and of grieving families that he had met during his first week in office. He had met young combatants and volunteers and found them all to be inspiring in their commitment to the security of the state. He felt supremely confident in the young leadership that he had encountered.
Rivlin continued to pay condolence calls on Friday.
He has met with 35 bereaved families to date, coming into close contact with the multi-national, multi-ethnic, multi-ideological demographic mix whose common denominator is being Israeli, he said. He has learned about new and veteran immigrants, about the talents and dreams of fallen soldiers, about marriage plans that will never materialize, about babies who will never know their fathers, about the concerns of parents and grandparents who still have one or more offspring fighting in Gaza, he said. But most of all, beyond the personal grief of each family, Rivlin said he has come across a broad understanding by bereaved families of what Israel is doing in Gaza and why, and this has made it easier for him to talk about the bravery of their loved ones who paid the supreme sacrifice and to convey the pride of the nation in their heroism.
He has also detected a greater sense of national unity than was evident before Operation Preventive Edge and has told the families of fallen soldiers that unity is the most important factor in national strength.
Meanwhile, former president Shimon Peres was interviewed by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Thursday, saying that he could not see a cease-fire with rockets and tunnels, “only a cease-fire without rockets and tunnels.”
Peres reiterated what he had said a day earlier to the Israeli media, namely that Gaza should be controlled by the Palestinian Authority under President Mahmoud Abbas.
Peres, who in the past had only the highest praise for US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, who have each been severely criticized in the Israeli media and by certain government ministers, was no less effusive in his commendations of them in his interview with Blitzer than he had been during his presidency.