Monday, October 26, 2009

IDF chief Ashkenazi in Berlin: 'We'll never underestimate threats'

Israel will not entrust its security to the hands of "strangers" and will do "everything needed" to protect its citizens if war is forced upon it, IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi warned on Monday, during a speech in Berlin that contained a veiled reference to Iran.

Ashkenazi spoke mostly in Hebrew at a Holocaust memorial situated on platform 17 of the Grünewald train station, which commemorates the forced deportations of Jews to Nazi concentration camps. He was accompanied by the commander of the Bundeswehr (German Federal Defense Force), Gen. Wolfgang Schneiderhan.

"Today, 64 years after the last train led Jews from this platform to death camps, and 61 years after the Jewish homeland was founded, anti-Semitism refuses to disappear from the world. It changes its face, language, path and justifications, but its aim remains the same. Today, state leaders openly declare their desire to destroy the State of Israel, and deny the right of the Jewish people to national sovereignty.

"The Jewish nation renewed itself in its land, and is committed to its independence and security. The IDF, the protector of the Jewish nation, is not a warmongering military, but a defensive military. We do not relish combat, but, if war is forced upon us, we will do all that is necessary so that Israeli citizens can sit safely in their homes. No one should test our power."

"The cry of our Jewish brothers and sisters who marched into train cars, led, beaten and humiliated, echoes to this day."

"We are obligated never to underestimate those who plot to harm us, never to entrust our security to the hands of strangers, and not to allow anyone to control the future of the Jewish people,".

Switching to English, Ashkenazi said, "In the name of the entire Jewish nation, I'm committed to do our utmost in order to prevent Jewish blood from being spilled once again."

He paid tribute to the close cooperation between the IDF and the German military.

"The very fact that the German chief of the General Staff and the Israeli chief of Staff are standing here together, shoulder to shoulder, 64 years after the Second World War, and the warm cooperation our militaries share, demonstrates our steadfast determination that never again will such atrocities occur," he said.