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Chief of Staff Memorial Day Statement: ‘I am responsible for failures of October 7’

Chief of the General Staff, LTG. Herzi Halevi spoke at the Yom Hazikaron ceremony at the Western Wall this evening (Sunday).

The following are the Chief of Staff’s full remarks at the ceremony:

When a person assumes command in the IDF, he takes on the weight of responsibility and a divine commitment.

He educates his soldiers on warfare and warcraft. He mentors them in values, professionalism, determination, initiative and dedication to the mission.

He passes down the legacy of former heroes of Israel and shapes them in their heroic image.

Leading from the front, he bears the grave responsibility for the soldiers’ lives; it is his duty for life.

When they fall, he stands before their families, weighed by the responsibility, which never dissipates.

This responsibility is etched on the faces of field commanders, and I see it each time I meet them.

Honorable President of the State, Mr. Isaac Herzog

Defense Minister, Mr. Yoav Gallant

Dear bereaved families,

Distinguished guests,

Throughout this war, I have visited our troops in Gaza numerous times.

Try to visualize the battlefield.

Facing me is a relatively young officer – courageous and composed, filled with a sense of purpose and fully aware of the gravity of his duty.

He recounts stories and important insights from the battlefield, and I listen and learn. When I depart, his image as commander stays with me

And I know we can trust him.

Shortly after, the news arrives –

There was a fierce battle,

there are casualties—

and he is one of the fallen.

The memory of his steadfast gaze and reassuring words will forever linger in my mind.

How deep the pain of loss, and how worthy the cause.

Every Memorial Day, we stand and read the Yizkor prayer for our fallen soldiers, comrades and commanders.

“For the splendor of youth, the yearning for valor, the sanctity of will, and virtue of self-sacrifice.”

By uttering the words “the splendor of youth,” we remember who the fallen were, what they accomplished in life, and what they did not live to fulfill.

When we speak of “the yearning for valor,” we visualize their final moments, their noble choices and courageous decisions, to uphold their oath to defend the State of Israel.

“A yearning” is a powerful desire to achieve that which is sublime.

This yearning is the essence of human will, because it seeks to attain that which is beyond reach.

The bravery of IDF soldiers has manifested in many forms over generations and battles. Their heroics differ in time, place and circumstance, yet they share a common element:

The heroes of the IDF have joined its ranks out of a sense of duty and purpose, and when faced with the ultimate test, they had the courage to do what was right.

The service of every man and woman in the IDF requires bravery. The willingness to shoulder the responsibility and undertake tasks which involve risk requires bravery. Every act of an individual to ensure the safety of many requires bravery.

Israel’s fallen soldiers strove for bravery, but did not seek death. They aspired to a life filled with meaning, to follow their passion, fulfill their dreams and leave a mark on the world.

They were heroes for the living, in the name of living.

When they fell, they left an indelible mark of bravery.

On this day, we bow our heads in memory of those who fought before us and alongside us in the wars for the independence of Israel and for the freedom of our people, and they have laid down their lives fighting the enemy.

We commemorate those who perished in accidents, and those who succumbed to illness or emotional distress.

By honoring our missing ranks, we vow to stand by our wounded – in body and soul.

We vow to do whatever is necessary to locate those missing in action and bring them back to their country.

We vow never to forget our hostages – men, women, children and elderly, civilians and soldiers – and never to forsake our profound commitment for their swift return to their homes.

On this Memorial Day, in the 76th year of our independence, on behalf of all the previous commanders of the IDF, I salute the 25,040 fallen soldiers of Israel.

As the commander of the IDF during war, I bear the responsibility for the failure of the IDF to defend our civilians on October 7th. I carry its weight on my shoulders daily, and in my heart, I fully understand its significance.

I bow my head in tribute to the civilians we could not save, to our comrades of the alert squads and security services and to the fallen soldiers of the IDF, men and women in reserve or active duty, who died in battle since the war began.

They were warriors, who bore full responsibility for missions of security and defense, rose to the occasion and stormed ahead without waiting for orders. They were women who stuck to their posts and would not abandon them in the face of approaching evil.

In the fiercest battles, many commanders charged forward, straight into the fire.

On long days of intense and daring fighting, amidst the enemy above and below ground, they all faced danger courageously and prevailed.

We are eternally indebted to those who walked the narrow path separating the sanctity of life and self-sacrifice.

They viewed themselves as if the fate of the entire war rested solely upon their shoulders. They did not seek glory, but to be the shield that safeguards their people.

Dearest families,

When a commander loses soldiers, his responsibility becomes an endless commitment to their legacy and the people they left behind.

I am the commander who sent your sons and daughters into the battle from which they never returned, and to the posts from which they were taken hostage.

I carry the memory of the fallen with me and I am responsible for providing answers to the difficult questions that haunt you.

I did not know all of the fallen soldiers, yet I shall never forget them.

I have not been able to visit their homes, yet I am forever committed to you – parents, children, siblings, partners and grandparents.

I stand humbly before your courage to endure pain, to gather the strength each day despite heavy loss, and fill the void with meaning.

In this war we are resolved to complete our mission, although we realize the heavy cost.

As long as our enemies rise against us, we shall stand guard, ready and willing, respond forcefully to any attempt to harm us, and strike down those who seek our destruction.

Service men and women of the IDF –

From the day we don the IDF uniform, we wear the mantle of responsibility. From the moment we enlist, we are united under one worthy cause – the defense of the country.

So it has been, and so it shall be.

It is a great privilege to be your commander – you, who are courageous and virtuous, steadfast and devoted, willing to take risks for this worthy cause, the worthiest of all.

Our debt to the fallen spans generations; to all who dreamed of the “coveted land, good and abundant,” yet never lived to pass through its gates; and to all who have returned, held onto its soil, and whose valor ensures the independence of Israel in our homeland – the coveted land our forefathers yearned for.

And its protector – the IDF.

May the memory of the fallen be blessed.

Source: Arutz Sheva