Israeli President Herzog – ‘We need to choose life’ and redeem the hostages

The event, held at the President’s residence, was organized to honor 120 Outstanding IDF soldiers.

By Vered Weiss, World Israel News

Speaking on Tuesday at an annual Israel Independence Day event in Jerusalem, Israeli President Isaac Herzog declared, “We need to choose life” and secure the release of hostages in Gaza.

The event, held at the President’s residence, was organized to honor 120 Outstanding IDF soldiers. It was followed by a reception for ambassadors and diplomats from around the world.

Speaking to soldiers and their families, Herzog said, “This emotional occasion is not taken for granted this year. This year, we mark a different Independence Day. ”

He added, “We are proud of our independence, of the miracle that is the State of Israel, but our hearts are full of sorrow and pain. With us here are dear and beloved bereaved families. ”

“These days, we are full of the pain of bereavement, pain for the wounded, the pain for civilians uprooted from their homes, the pain for the hostages,” he continued.

Herzog emphasized the importance of securing the release of hostages still in Gaza and said, “I reiterate – there is no greater mitzvah (Torah commandment) than redeeming captives.”

He added, “As I said we need to act with courage. We need to choose life. We will not rest or be silent. We will not rest or be silent – until our sons and daughters return home to their borders.”

He recounted his initial reservations about holding the annual event at all, given the ongoing war with Hamas, but added that he was glad that the event proceeded as planned.

“I have debated considerably whether it is right to hold the traditional ceremony this year for Independence Day at the President’s Residence. When we carry with us constantly so much pain, mourning, so much concern for hostages and soldiers, so much sorrow and grief – how can we behave as usual?” he said.

“Now, when I look at you – 120 Outstanding Soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces – I know I made the right decision,” he said.

” You are 120 beacons of light. 120 sources of comfort. 120 sources of hope. Your bravery, excellence, determination, you comradery and love for the people, nation, and homeland – are the source of our strength and inspiration. You lift the spirit of the people, and the whole nation salutes you,” Herzog declared.