IDF Chief of Staff: Don't touch the bereaved families

Kochavi fails to mention the name of the Farkash family in the letter which came several days after the demonstrators were condemned by politicians including the PM.

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi speaks at the officers graduation ceremony, July 1st, 2020 (photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)
IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi speaks at the officers graduation ceremony, July 1st, 2020
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi issued a rare political statement condemning recent protests by supporters of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu against a bereaved family, saying that such actions were “a redline.”
The letter, which opened with “Do not touch the bereaved,” came several days after the family of Capt. Tom Farkash, who was killed when his helicopter crashed near Safed during the Second Lebanon War, were the target of protests after they let anti-Netanyahu protesters use their rooftop near the prime minister’s home in Caesarea.
“The State of Israel is a lively and vibrant democracy. This is a source of strength that is expressed in open public discourse; a plurality of opinions and independent thinking, which is important to preserve and encourage,” he wrote. “However, there are topics that must be left outside any debate, foremost the fallen and bereaved families. They need to be given special and unique treatment.”
The incident on Tuesday, where one protester even wished that Farkash’s mother Anat lose another child, led to widespread outrage. The protester, Ephraim Grif, later apologized for his comments on Channel 12.
Nevertheless, Anat expressed outrage following the incident, saying that the demonstrators “came to attack” and curse at a family who lost a son while defending the country.
“Our son gave his life so that they, their children, and all the residents of the State of Israel will have a safe life. How did we get here? Shame on the police who allowed them to stand under our window and did nothing!” she exclaimed.
“How low have Bibi’s supporters sunk? How low did Bibi sink?” she continued. “Dear Likudniks who stood under our window tonight: we are fighting for all the citizens of Israel. Our Tom was killed for you as well. We all deserve better.”
In the letter, Kochavi said that the country will “maintain and protect” the honor of all fallen soldiers and their families.
“This is a moral and humane redline that must not be crossed,” he said, adding that “at every opportunity, we must cherish bereaved families, care for them and embrace them. We’ll argue, we’ll disagree with each other, we’ll express a variety of opinions – but we’ll guard the families.
“This is our duty to ourselves so that we do not slide down a slope of social schism, and it is our duty toward them – a national, moral, and humane duty.”
Kochavi did not mention the family by name in the letter, which came days after Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, opposition leader Yair Lapid and other Knesset members condemned the protesters. Israel Air Force Commander Maj.-Gen. Amikam Norkin was also reported to have visited the family during the week.
Though one of the protesters yelled that Netanyahu is also bereaved, the prime minister said in his statement released by the Likud Party that he has “throughout his life fastidiously respected the sense of loss of bereaved families, and others – from the Left and Right – must conduct themselves in a similar fashion.”