JERUSALEM, Israel - Eight IDF (Israel Defense Forces) soldiers received medals of honor Wednesday evening for their exceptional bravery in Operation Cast Lead, Israel's three-week military incursion in the Gaza Strip last winter.
Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant, head of the IDF's Southern Command, presented the medals at last night's ceremony, which took place on the sixth night of the Hanukkah holiday.
"You are a lighthouse of morality and values," Galant told the recipients.
"The IDF reached its goals," he said. "The enemy was badly beaten, and IDF soldiers acted out of faith in the justice of our cause, and their moral norms are praiseworthy," the commander told them.
On Tuesday evening, commanders of the IDF's elite Givati Brigade, carried on a tradition, now in its twentieth year, to light the fifth candle of the Hanukkah holiday with families who lost sons and daughters in combat.
Every year, the Givati Brigade devotes a full day during Hanukkah to these families, beginning with breakfast, followed by tours to places of interest for the whole family and winding up with a festive holiday dinner.
"Every year this institution gets stronger and stronger," Givati Brigade Commander Moni Katz told the families during dinner.
"You are our light and our courage in all that we do. You give strength to those who need to use it to get up and train. You give courage to those who need to use it on the battlefield," he said.
"I am happy to have the opportunity to thank all of you and wish you a Happy Hanukkah," he said.
The Jerusalem Post contributed to this report.