IDF Chief of Staff Lt.Gen. Gadi Eisenkot awards Gaza Division certificate of appreciation..
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot awarded the Gaza Division a certificate of appreciation, recognizing its contribution to Israel’s security throughout the ongoing clashes with Palestinians along the border.
“The Gaza Division is dealing with a variety of threats, against which it stands strong, while showing determination, creativity and wisdom. It is working night and day to defend the residents of the South,” the IDF said Wednesday.
Thousands of Palestinians have demonstrated along the Gaza-Israel security fence on a weekly basis as part of the “Great Return March” which began March 30 and has seen close to 200 killed by IDF fire and thousands more wounded, according to Palestinian Health Ministry numbers.
“Over the past six months you have dealt with terrorist attacks, attempts to violate our sovereignty, and various terrorist activities under the guise of popular protests involving women, children and adults,” Eisenkot said at the award ceremony at the Gaza Division’s headquarters in Re’im, near the Gaza border, adding that the division has “acted responsibly and professionally in a complex reality.”
Within the division, the units and their commanders oversee complex operations against violent riots in a professional and responsible manner, the IDF said.
“The troops serving in the division’s area of responsibility continue to prove their readiness for a wide range of scenarios, operating day and night in order to ensure minimal disruption to the lives of civilians who live in the communities adjacent to Gaza,” the military said.
In his speech, Eisenkot mourned the division’s sole fatality since the 2014 Gaza war, St.-Sgt. Aviv Levi, who was shot dead by a Palestinian sniper this summer.
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“Unfortunately our efforts come at a price. We lost our first soldier since Operation Protective Edge, St.-Sgt. Aviv Levi, and several soldiers and civilians have been wounded as well. We, as the IDF, do not have the privilege of growing weary, but must keep acting, knowing full well that this is for the security of the State of Israel,” he said.
Noting the division’s efforts to locate and destroy cross-border Hamas attack tunnels by using an advanced technological system which relies on a variety of sensors, Eisenkot said that the division deserves international recognition.
Since October 2017 the IDF has located and successfully destroyed 15 cross-border tunnels.
“The campaign to locate the offensive terrorist tunnels penetrating into Israeli territory affect our forces and especially the civilian home front. The combined efforts of various combat officers and soldiers, technological and intelligence abilities have led to remarkable operational achievements, which are worthy of local and international recognition.”
The IDF has placed great importance on finishing the construction of a 65-kilometer underground barrier along the border with the Gaza Strip, which is expected to be completed by late 2019.
The military is also building an underwater barrier in the northern part of the Strip meant to stave off Hamas infiltration by sea. The 50-m. wide and 6-m. high barrier is expected to be completed by the end of the year and will stretch 200 meters from the community of Zikim into the Mediterranean.
In his speech Eisenkot also praised Brig.-Gen. Yehuda Fuchs, who is set to end his tenure as commander of the Gaza Division shortly, after two years in the position.
“I want to take this opportunity to express my great appreciation for you, Yehuda, for your dedication, professionalism, determination, initiative and leadership, which deserves to be recognized – all of this in a highly complicated situation,” he said. “I salute you in the name of the IDF, for your devotion and commitment to the security of the State of Israel.”
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