"We are here, at the Arch of Titus in Rome on the eve of Tisha B'av, the day the Jewish Temple was destroyed by Titus, and together with the Jewish Community we say: 'The people of Israel are alive!'" -  Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi

This is a part of the address given by the IDF Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, during a short ceremony that was held at the historical Arch of Titus in Rome this evening, on the eve of Tisha B'av [9th of the Jewish calendar month of Av – Jewish commemoration and fast day marking the destruction of the First and Second Jewish Temples in Jerusalem]. The Israeli Ambassador in Italy, Mr. Gideon Meir, the president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, Mr. Renzo Gattegna and the Chief Rabbi and Chief Cantor of Italy, were all present at the ceremony.


In his speech, Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi said, "despite all the misery and horrible tragedies that struck us since the destruction of the Second Temple and our exile, the Jewish People were able to re-establish their national independence in 1948. The Israel Defense Forces, which I'm proud to head, carries the responsibility for the security of this independence. The IDF, as a large, strong and deterring army which draws on its physical and morale strength, is the force that stands prepared against all of our enemies and those who seek to harm us. It is the force that when required, will prevent tragedies, like the one commemorated by this arch".


Earlier today, Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi met with his colleague, Chief of Defense Staff of Italy, General Vincenzo Camporini.

The Chief of the General Staff also met with the Italian General Staff. The two sides discussed the enhancement and expansion of cooperation between the two armies and the challenges that the armies face on various fronts. The IDF Chief of the General staff thanked his host "for the Italian government's assistance and support for Israel in light of the recent campaign to delegitimize the IDF and the Zionist movement".


Tonight, Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi will meet and address the Jewish Community of Rome.

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