Ashkenazi in Kfar Saba
Photo: Ofer Amram

IDF chief: Every youth must serve

Speaking before high school seniors in Kfar Saba, Gabi Ashkenazi says all must share burden of national service: 'We can't live in a society in which some serve and others don't'. Ashkenazi also addresses efforts to bring home captive soldier Gilad Shalit, ethics of combat

Speaking before high school seniors in Kfar Saba on Friday, IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi said, "We must act to ensure there is no legitimization of shirking (military service)".


"There is no reason for somebody who has served in the army to be at a disadvantage upon completion of his service compared to those that haven't served, and have acquired a degree and job before him. We cannot live in a society in which some serve and others don't serve," he added.


When asked about sharing the burden of military service, he said, "We must instill national service or civil service in the State of Israel. Every 18-year-old must show up at the recruitment center, and if they cannot perform regular service, which is the most significant, they should perform civil service in any body of the government's choice."


He then addressed the matter of female service in the IDF, and said that while there has been progress made on that plane, the military still has a long way to go: "We have long ago distanced ourselves from the image of 'girls make the coffee', I urge girls to opt for significant service, to chose combat units."


'Will not rest until Gilad affair over'

The students, most of which will be enlisted in the army next year, asked the chief of staff about the matter of the release of captive solider Gilad Shalit. "I view Gilad as our solider, we sent him on a mission," he responded.


"We are operating both openly and in secret, and we will not rest until we bring this painful affair to an end," he said. The chief of staff refused to comment on the details of the sensitive negotiations taking place in the matter, but said, "I hope the efforts are fruitful."


During his visit at the school he also commented on the abuse affair recently revealed in the military. "There is no place for such things in the military, they should be nipped at the bud, even if it is a tradition."


He called the 'hazing' ceremonies "a sub-culture" and said action should be taken among the soldiers to break the silence. "We must ensure that such incidents do not take place. The norms in the military are clear. You don't hit, there is no place for that," he said.


The chief of staff then addressed claims that an IDF soldier stole a Gazan resident's credit card during Operation Cast Lead, and said, "We are carrying out internal investigations and looking into every claim. This was an isolated incident. The Investigation Military Police went and checked ATMs in order to locate the soldiers."


Following Central Command Chief Gadi Shamni's testimony on Thursday in the trial of a Kfir Brigade soldier accused of using excessive violence against a Palestinian, one of the students asked Ashkenazi about orders given to troops operating in the West Bank.


"Soldiers operate in a complex, difficult reality," he said, "Even checkpoint missions aren't easy. We are a moral and ethical army. We cannot place obstacles before troops, but explain to them where the line is. We teach the troops what the law is, apply common sense, and teach ethics and morals.


"During Operation Cast Lead, thousands of soldiers operated in the most densely populated area in the world, in a complex reality, and I have no knowledge of a single incident in which an IDF soldier saw a woman or child before them and killed them.


"If you look at the army, we can be proud of the way in which it operates the lethal systems it controls. We are a moral army; we teach the difference between good and bad. Sometimes there are exceptions that are dealt with," he concluded.


פרסום ראשון: 09.11.09, 15:41
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