President Reuven Rivlin on Wednesday, 9 Sivan, toured Israel’s northern border. The President arrived at the Gibor Base, of the Hiram Division, near Kiryat Shmona, where he met with the division commanders led by Deputy Chief of Staff Major-General Yair Golan, Northern District Commander Major-General Aviv Kochavi, and brigade commander Brigadier-General Moni Katz, and was briefed on the situation in the region. The commanders discussed with the President the current challenges on the border with Lebanon with regard to Hizbullah, various aspects of the Syrian front, and the challenges of organizing and leading the necessary forces.
The President went on to the Misgav Am observation point where he was able to see out across into Lebanon and the operational reality as it is in the field, through an exercise which displayed the deployment of defense forces on the ground in case of an attack. After his visit to the observation point, the President arrived at the Lilach Post, where he met and spoke with armored and Golani infantry soldiers and commanders. He said, “I saw in the field, the challenges which we face and I know the weight of responsibility that rests on your shoulders. I came here in order to thank you for your impressive, unwavering work, which fills me with pride.”
During his visit, the President spoke with the media about the rocket fire from Gaza the previous evening. He said, “We will continue and respond promptly and firmly, to any attempt to disturb the calm in the south. It is important to remember that as long as Hamas rules Gaza, its residents will continue to suffer the consequences of such disturbances. The rehabilitation of Gaza is in our interest and it would be good for there to be an initiative we are prepared to go along with, in order to solve the problems of the residents of Gaza. It must be an international initiative, with the understanding that the rebuilding requires the ending of all hostility toward Israel. I call on all the nations of the world, to the USA and Europe, to come and see how we can formulate an initiative which will improve the lives and the conditions of the residents of Gaza. Such an initiative which must take into account the non-negotiable condition that Gaza will not be used as a front to attack Israel at any given moment.”
When asked his opinion on talking to Hamas, the President said, “It is really not important to me with whom I speak, but rather about what we are speaking. I have no aversion to holding negotiations with anyone who is prepared to negotiate. The question is what do they want to negotiate about. If they want to negotiate my very existence, then I would not negotiate with them.”
In relation to his tour, the President said, “I am visiting the northern front, and the green hills and views which I have seen do not deceive me, they do not deceive the citizens of Israel, and crucially, they do not deceive the Israel Defense Forces which is fully prepared. I remember the words of the Prophets, ‘from the north shall come evil’, these words I take seriously. I am greatly encouraged by our readiness, the preparedness of the IDF to face off against any evil that should come from the north.” The President added, “It must be understood that the State of Israel’s ability to provide for its security needs, in the south as in the north, depends on the IDF’s ability sustain its activities. The situation in which have found ourselves for a number of years, without a long term budget for the IDF, and the fact that the Knesset and the government have still yet to formulate a budget, is no longer sustainable. There are many who talk about cuts in the IDF budget and on this we must debate. One may suggest things here or there, but if we are unable to sustain and maintain the security services, we will not complete our missions. We are strong and prepared, we have a wonderful and excellent army, and yes, we can also debate about ‘this or that’ style of management, but always with respect for all those are working so hard, day and night, night and day.”
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)