KNESSET SPEAKER Yuli Edelstein addresses the Bundestag’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
(photo credit: BOAZ ARAD)
Support for bereaved families will remain a matter of consensus, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein vowed Sunday, 10 days after MKs shouted down parents who lost their sons in combat during a legislative committee meeting.
“This year, we embrace you more than ever, and promise that your status will remain above all controversy and beyond all dispute,” Edelstein told bereaved parents at the national memorial ceremony at Yad Labanim in Jerusalem.
The Knesset speaker’s comments came after coalition chairman David Bitan (Likud) and MK Miki Zohar (Likud) yelled at and argued with bereaved parents attending a Knesset State Control Committee meeting. The MKs apologized soon after, amid a public uproar over their behavior.
On Sunday, Edelstein said Israel has always wanted peace with its neighbors, but knows that it has to act to protect its security and that of its citizens.
“That is why we must keep the IDF strong and advanced and moral, during times of routine and times of war,” he said. “The IDF was and will remain the army of the people, as long as it draws its strength from the people.
“We will continue giving full support to our soldiers and officers who deal at every moment with complex and sensitive challenges like no other,” Edelstein added.
Later, the Knesset and Defense Ministry held its annual “Singing in Their Memory” ceremony in which popular Israeli artists sing songs and politicians read poems inspired and written by fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism. This year, pieces related to the Six Day War and Jerusalem’s reunification were emphasized in honor of its 50th anniversary.
The ceremony opened with an IDF band singing a medley of songs about Jerusalem, including “Jerusalem of Gold,” and “Ammunition Hill,” memorializing a famous battle in the Six Day War.
The performers taking part in the ceremony included Avraham Tal, Keren Peles, Ester Rada and IDF Chief Cantor Shai Abramson.
Edelstein and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, among others, gave readings.
Police Commissioner Insp.-Gen. Roni Alsheich, Deputy IDF Chief of Staff Yair Golan, Mossad chief Yossi Cohen and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) head Nadav Argaman took part in the ceremony, representing all the state’s security arms.
In between readings and performances, short films were played telling the stories of fallen soldiers from the perspective of the women in their lives – mothers, sisters, daughters or wives. In the first, the wife of Hagai Ben-Ari, who died in Operation Protective Edge, spoke of her memories of her husband.