Two days ahead of Yom Hazikaron — Israel’s official Memorial Day — IDF Chief of General Staff Benny Gantz laid Israeli flags Sunday on the fresh graves of two IDF soldiers.
Lt. Hila Bezaleli was killed during a rehearsal for this week’s Independence Day ceremony at the national cemetery site Mount Herzl. Cpl. Yehoshua Hefetz, a 19-year-old from Jerusalem, collapsed on the final day of a grueling four-day trial in the Negev for entry to the elite IDF combat engineering unit Yahalom.
“These tombstones represent lives that were cut prematurely and dreams that will never come to fruition,” Ynet News quoted Gantz as saying.
In an interview with Yedioth Ahronoth published Sunday, Gantz spoke of the IDF’s preparedness for a strike on Iran. “In principle, we are ready to act,” Gantz said. The IDF chief added, “Given the strategic reality and instability in the region, the chance of the current situation deteriorating into a war is higher than in the past.”
Gantz also said he had ordered his forces to step up covert operations in enemy countries. “You almost won’t find a point in time where something isn’t happening somewhere in the world,” he said. “I am escalating all those special operations.” Gantz did not identify any of the countries or give any further details.
In an interview with Haaretz, also published Sunday, Gantz talked about the necessity to find new and alternative ways to enlist more ultra-Orthodox soldiers.