IDF reservists honored at Beit Hanassi

Ceremony coincides with Lag B'Omer, commemorating the Bar Kochba revolt.

reserve soldiers298 88aj (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
reserve soldiers298 88aj
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
For the third consecutive year, members of Israel's reserve defense forces were honored on Tuesday at a ceremony at Beit Hanassi in which commanders of 15 reserves units received citations in recognition for commitment and courage beyond the call of duty. The date, the 18th day of the Hebrew calendar month of Iyar, which coincides with Lag B'Omer, was chosen as the permanent date for recognizing reserve units because it also commemorates the Bar Kochba revolt against the Romans and the ongoing need for the people of Israel to defend and safeguard the homeland. The willingness of reservists to serve for long years after completing their compulsory service in the IDF was made particularly noteworthy against the backdrop of the High Court of Justice ruling handed down this week which upholds the legality of the Tal Law under which members of the Haredi community are permitted to defer their military service while continuing their Torah studies in yeshivot nationwide. "No other country in the world has a reservist call-up like the State of Israel" declared Defense Minister Amir Peretz, who said that although the IDF will abide by the court's decision, which perpetuates a state of inequality it will do everything in its power to encourage more people who have opted out of army service to change their minds. "Inequality is not healthy and it brings about resentment and anger," he said, noting that not only haredim and minority groups constitute those who do not serve, but there are also people from other sectors of the population that do not necessarily come to public attention. The army, he said, is a great equalizer and contributes greatly to the reduction of inequality. Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan HalutzI noted that despite the reforms that reduced the service time of reservists, "we still need you and will continue to call on you." If it was possible, said President Moshe Katsav, the IDF would be happy to give more exemptions to reservists, "but the State of Israel still has to battle for its existence and the safety of its citizens. You are aware of the threats." Despite the difficulties of having to spend at least a month each year away from work and from family, said Katsav, preparedness for any unexpected emergency situation was essential. The last decade has proved that everything that Israel has done towards reconciliation, peace and security is to no avail noted Katsav. "The enemy is not ready to reconcile with us." It is not certain, he added, that the Israel-Palestinian conflict is the central issue in the region. The Iranian threats against Israel are not calculated for the sole purpose of winning popularity polls amongst the Palestinians, he asserted. "They are utilizing Israel towards the attainment of other ambitions. "Future relations between Israel and the Palestinians are not contingent on the extent to which Israel is willing to make comprises said Katsav, but on what the Palestinians are prepared do towards the advancement of peace. Endorsing the proposal of David Ivri, a former director general of the Defense Ministry, Katsav said that there should be compulsory national service for all those who do not serve in the IDF. Speaking on behalf of the commanders of the reserves units, Lieutenant-Colonel Guy Inbar declared that reservists do not want to be taken for granted. "We don't want recognition on one particular day of the year. We want our efforts to be appreciated every day of the year." Inbar made a point of thanking the wives of all the reservists. Without their understanding, cooperation and readiness to take over their husbands' responsibilities he said, "We would not be able to do what we do."