During a tour of the Tel Hashomer IDF recruitment center with Chief of Staff Major-General Gabi Ashkenazi on Sunday, President Shimon Peres said gaps in IDF recruitment endanger the state, and emphasized that every citizen must serve the country.
During the visit, Peres was guided around the center by the chief of staff and Head of IDF Human Resources Brigadier-General Avi Zamir. He then met new recruits to the Golani brigade.
Peres emphasized the importance of military service and said that those who serve become better citizens than those who don't, who "lose their way."
"If anyone is defending Israel, it's the army," he continued. "The state cannot allow the existence of gaps in recruitment, which endanger the state. Everyone must serve his country. Whoever wants to avoid war must have a strong army. Only a good and powerful army serves as a deterrent."
Peres referred to recent tension between Ashkenazi and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and said there was nothing in it.
"All serve the state, each one does this according to his conscience, I don't know any other way of evaluating service," Peres said, and added that there was no place for criticism against the chief of staff.
Peres also blamed Iran for the tension in the north of the country.
"Iran intends to dominate the Arab world. It uses the conflict between us and the Palestinians as a pretext," he said. "The one endangering the Arab world is not Israel. We have no intention of conquering the Middle East. They want hegemony over the Arab world. They are the most egoistical in their desire to control the Middle East, but we will have no part in that game. We will talk peace with anyone who wants to talk peace."
During the same visit, Ashkenazi referred to his decision to dismiss Brigadier-General Moshe "Chico" Tamir from the army. In his first public explanation of the decision, the chief of staff said, "Chico is a highly decorated officer of many achievements. However, what he did constitutes a failure of values, which is why I decided as I did."
The chief of staff, whose visit to the recruitment center with the president marked the new recruitment intake of March 2010, refused to give additional details regarding his decision.
The dismissal raised a storm in the IDF and drew criticism directed towards Ashkenazi himself. Tamir was dismissed four months after his trial about a case in which his son was permitted to drive an army-issue ATV, and irregularities regarding his conduct following the incident.