Kochavi: IDF’s mission includes protecting Holocaust survivors

On eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, chief-of-staff sends message to IDF soldiers their job is to protect Israel from the coronavirus pandemic in order to keep Holocaust survivors alive.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

In his traditional annual order-of-the-day to IDF soldiers at the start of Holocaust Remembrance Day, the commander of Israel’s armed forced told his troops Monday their job was to keep those who survived the Nazis alive.

As the annual memorial day was set to begin Monday evening, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi noted that the coronavirus crisis had placed a special obligation on the military’s shoulders.

“The present reality does not allow us to meet with the survivors, [but requires us to] support them, and draw inspiration and power from them,” Kochavi said in a statement released by the IDF.

“At this time, our mission is to guard them. As part of the IDF’s [coronavirus] efforts, we are also concerned about them. We will always remember them – the life they rebuilt, the communities they founded, the tradition they preserved and their adherence to Jewish identity.

IDF troops have been deployed across Israel in areas hit hard by the coronavirus, helping to distribute food to citizens including Holocaust survivors.

The chief of staff opened his remarks with comments about Jewish soldiers in a special British army brigade who  helped liberate some of the Nazi death camps.

“When the soldiers of the Jewish brigade entered the extermination camps with the Allies, the survivors could not believe their eyes – soldiers with a Star of David symbol,” Kochavi said.

“In those days to their eyes a Jewish soldier was a conundrum, a reality that did not exist and a fact that was impossible. Into the heart of darkness and the depth of the moral depression came the Star of David.”

Kochavi said today’s soldiers are privileged to belong to a “self-defense generation,” saying it was important to remember that the IDF is the face of victory.

“The Star of David is no longer carried as a sign of disgrace, but is fixed in the IDF’s emblem as an expression of power,” he said.

“We will continue our way and be vigilant so that we will never be at the mercy of anyone. We will continue to tell their story, ensure that their testimonies are forever echoed, and we will capture in our hearts those who fell victim to the sheer evil of the Nazis. Memory is a source of power, spirit and values.”