The president described the troops as "the wonderful image of the people of Israel" and added, "As someone who has experienced Israel's first Independence Day, I am proud to say a prayer of thanks. A prayer for the speedy recovery of our wounded sons, and for the safe return of our missing and captive soldiers."
Group photo. President with outstanding troops (Photo: Ohad Zoigenberg)
Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi also attended the ceremony. Addressing the soldiers' parents he said, "As the army's commander and on behalf of the people of Israel, I thank you for the values you instilled in these sons and daughters, your pride is our pride and the whole nation's pride."
Ashkenazi further added, "We send a warm and loving embrace to all the bereaved families, wish a speedy recovery to our wounded and will keep on working to return our captive troops. It is a great privilege to command over you, I am very proud of you."
Earlier Tuesday, Peres and Ashkenazi took part in a sing-along event at the President's Residence together with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, accompanied by the IDF Orchestra.
As part of Independence Day events, the IDF held aerial and naval shows on Tuesday. At least 200,000 travelers celebrated the holiday by visiting national parks and nature reserve.
Ronen Medzini, Hanan Greenberg, Hagai Einav, Sharon Roffe-Ofir, Shmulik Hadad and Yoav Zitun contributed to this report