IDF celebrates 61 years of overcoming all the odds

The General Staff of the IDF celebrated the 61st anniversary of the military's formation at a festive gathering on Monday at Beit Hanassi. The anniversary celebration included a display of photographs of various IDF events. President Shimon Peres and Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi toured the exhibit, peering at familiar faces and looking closely at those military and political figures no longer in the land of the living - among them David Ben-Gurion, Golda Meir, Yitzhak Rabin, Ezer Weizman, Motta Gur, Moti Hod, Moshe Dayan, David Elazar, Haim Bar Lev, Yekutiel Adam, Gad Ya'acobi and many others - who each left an indelible mark on the history of the state. Ashkenazi opened the proceedings at the event by stating that Peres knew and loved the army to which he had devoted a great part of his life, and which in turn owed him a great deal. Ashkenazi assured Peres that the forum of the General Staff fully comprehended the extent of the responsibility it carried for the security of the State of Israel. "We have the most advanced technologies and systems in the world, and the most outstanding people. Without them we would not have attained what we have achieved," he said. "All the people in front of you have a sense of mission and feel privileged to serve." Peres served in many prominent defense posts over the years, including defense minister and head of the navy, and was a member of the Hagana prior to the creation of the state. A short documentary showing the IDF in all its battles from the War of Independence to Operation Cast Lead vividly illustrated the progress of the IDF over the past six decades. In 1948, Israel had to face Arab forces of 160,000, excluding Arab naval and air forces. Israel's arsenal was sparse and comprised 5,607 hand guns, 10,264 submachine guns, 6,436 machine guns, 21,886 rifles, 682 light mortars and no field cannons. Yet for all that, Israel triumphed. "There is no record in the world equivalent to that of the IDF," declared Peres, adding that the reality of the IDF had superseded any dream.