IDF chief says Holocaust remembrance ‘source of strength’ for those fighting in Gaza

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi is seen at a Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony held at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem, April 17, 2023. (Erik Marmor/Flash90)
IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi is seen at a Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony held at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem, April 17, 2023. (Erik Marmor/Flash90)

In a missive to troops ahead of Yom HaShoah, Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi says the military is fighting in memory of those who perished, and to ensure that history does not repeat itself.

“With the sound of the siren, the memory of the six million who were murdered in the ghettos and death camps, in the killing ravines, and in the death marches arises. For a moment we will bow our heads and unite with the memory of our people who were persecuted and perished just because they were Jews, and immediately we will look ahead, proudly carry their holy will, and act to ensure that [our] national home will be forever, which they wished for, but [did] not have the privilege [to see],” Halevi writes.

“The State of Israel was established, among other things, thanks to the female and male fighters of all generations, who were ready to give their lives for it. These days we are in a war in which at the beginning we failed in our mission and we lost many men and women — civilians, soldiers, members of local security teams, and members of the security and rescue forces. Lives that were cut short, in a war that was also forced upon us by the hand of a heinous enemy who rose up against us to destroy us. But this time we are different. A change has taken place in the Jewish people. From a voiceless and defenseless nation, to a nation that bears responsibility for its destiny. Fighting and promising, never again,” he continues.

“No longer a Star of David as a sign of disgrace, but as a symbol on the flag of the nation, flying with pride. No longer a scattered nation who are homeless and persecuted in exile, but a strong and independent people united in their country and homeland. No longer a nation without a protective force, but a nation with heroes and heroines in its ranks, who stand high and proud and fight together shoulder to shoulder as part of the Israel Defense Forces,” Halevi says.

“We fight in memory of the six million who could not fight the enemy who rose to destroy them; for our people who looked in terror and helplessness through the barbed wire fences; for those who did not allow their fate to be determined by the Nazi oppressor, took up arms and fought for their lives and the lives of their people with all their might, a war of the few against the many with their heads held high; and in the name of those who managed to be saved from the German inferno and mobilized the rest of their strength to take part in establishing a state for the Jewish people,” he writes.

“As we fight our just war, this remembrance will be the source of our strength, and a reminder of the importance of the existence of a protective force for our people. We carry on our shoulders the responsibility to continue fighting for the freedom of the people of Israel, and to promise: Never again!” Halevi adds.

Holocaust Remembrance Day will begin at sundown on Sunday night, and continue Monday.

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