Israel’s top military brass celebrates soldiers with special needs

“The IDF promotes solidarity,” said IDF Chief of General Staff Lt. General Aviv Kochavi.

By World Israel News Staff

IDF Chief of General Staff Lt. General Aviv Kochavi celebrated the country’s inclusion of people with disabilities in the Israel Defense Forces on Sunday.

“The IDF promotes solidarity when it takes four people from different places and places them together in a tank,” Kochavi said. “This is how the [army] creates and promotes solidarity, and that’s what occurs in all its divisions.

“But when the IDF meets Special in Uniform’s soldiers, [solidarity] acquires a whole new meaning and significance,” he continued. “Anyone who is involved in this incredible project connects via these mechanisms of the IDF to the nation’s army and the nation in its entirety.”

Kochavi was speaking at the annual Special in Uniform benefit, which took place in the Air Force Center in Herzliya.

Special in Uniform is a pioneering military inclusion program run by the IDF in collaboration with JNF-USA. It works to incorporate some 750 young people with a variety of physical and mental disabilities into 60 army bases around Israel, where they perform military work. These participants benefit from the experience and the military benefits from their work.

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Outgoing Mossad Chief Yossi Cohen was also at the event. He serves as president of Special in Uniform and his son, Yoni, who was born with cerebral palsy, served through the program in the IDF. He ended his army service as a captain of Unit 8200, the Military Intelligence Directorate’s main information gathering unit.

“Register and support the association that is doing the most moral and honorable thing that I know of,” Cohen said.

Others in attendance included Special in Uniform Chairman Lt. Col. (Res.) Gabi Ophir and Lihi Lapid, wife of Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, who has a daughter with autism who joined the program.