Eight IDF soldiers received medals of honor on Wednesday evening for heroism they showed during Operation Cast Lead last year. OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant, who presented the soldiers with the decorations, said that during the incursion into Gaza "the IDF reached its goals. The enemy was badly beaten. IDF soldiers acted out of faith in the justice of our cause, and their moral norms are praiseworthy." During the ceremony, where top Southern Command brass and heads of councils and communities from the western Negev were also present, soldiers and their family members joined Ben Spitzer, one of the soldiers who suffered the most serious wounds in the operation, in lighting the Hanukka candles. Galant told the veterans that "In the tough hours of the trial through fire you bravely and resiliently persevered. You are a lighthouse of morality and values." One of the recipients of the decoration said receiving it was an honor laced with sadness over the death of his platoon commander, who, he said, "was like a big brother to me." "We represent a clear message of the IDF's morality and dedication to the mission at hand. The fighters who were part of the operation proved to the citizens of Israel that they can count on us," the soldier said. According to new IDF regulations, servicemen in combat units are identified only by first names. The recipients of the decorations are Maj. Dr. Alexander, Lt. Ephraim, from the Golani Brigade, Staff Sergeant (res.) Menahem of the Kfir Brigade, Master Sergeant Ziv, of the Israel Air Force, Captain Motti, of the Sa'ar battalion, Paratrooper Staff Sergeant (res.) Ofer, Lt. Nadav of the Givati Brigade and Paratrooper Staff Sergeant (res.) Ziv.