JERUSALEM, Sept. 28 — Israel can only rely on itself in ensuring its survival, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Thursday at a memorial ceremony honoring Israeli soldiers killed in the 1973 Mideast war.
"We will only be able to trust ourselves during the ultimate test, just as we did from the moment of the state's creation in 1948, the 1967 Six Day War, the Yom Kippur War and subsequent wars," Barak said at the Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem in a veiled reference to the Iranian threat.
Referring to the air raid siren that alerted Israelis to the surprise attacks launched by the Egyptian and Syrian militaries in October 1973 during the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, Barak said that war was a turning point in the country's history.
"It was a turning point, against the background of a war spanning many decades that began with Israel's birth and continues to this very day. The power of the siren that tore at once the holiness of Yom Kippur echoes on to this day, and with it a clear lesson: We must always safeguard our absolute awareness, and not be misled by false hopes, aspirations or wishes," the defense minister said, according to a statement sent to Xinhua.
The remarks came a day after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad predicted the "disappearance" of Israel in his speech to the UN General Assembly in New York, and as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prepares to address the world body later on Thursday.
The Iranian leader said his country was under a "continued threat by uncivilized Zionists," who, he argued, were seeking to " resort to military action against our great nation."
In an open letter to the Israeli public, Netanyahu on Wednesday evening promised to deliver a "tough response" to Ahmadinejad in his UN speech, in which he is expected to clearly lay out Israel's "red lines" for Iran's nuclear program which he believes that, if crossed, should prompt a military strike.
Netanyahu will take to the podium in New York in the midst of growing tensions between Jerusalem and Washington over Iran's presumed drive to attain an atomic bomb, and the Obama administration's persistent refusal to spell out red lines for Tehran.
The prime minister said that regarding the Iranian issue, Israelis "are all united" in the goal of preventing Tehran from achieving nuclear weaponry.
Addressing bereaved relatives and friends of near 2,700 troops killed in 1973, Barak described the current situation in the Middle East as "stormy and challenging."
He said that the duty of Israel's political and security leadership is to ensure that the army and other security bodies stand "sharp, strong and ready for any challenge," both near and far.
Barak further asserted that "our responsibility is also to do everything we can to break the cycle of hatred, and ensure that the best of our sons only head out to the battlefield when there is no choice. With that, our supreme obligation is to ensure Israel's security, to fight and win every battle if necessary, even at a painful price." (PNA/Xinhua)