There are moments in the life of a nation, when it is compelled to look directly into the face of reality and say: no more!
And I say to everyone: no more!
Israel will not be held hostage not by terror gangs or by a terrorist authority or by any sovereign state.
In the life of a nation there are moments of transcendence, of purification, when political and sectarian disputes which separate us are replaced by a sense of mutual responsibility. I highly value and appreciate the way the Opposition has been conducting itself in the Knesset these days. The human competition and personal rivalries are dissolved and instead our feeling of mutual responsibility arises, our sense of partnership, and primarily, our eternal love for our people and our land.
This is such a moment!
All of us Jews, Muslims, Christians, Druze and Circassians now stand as one person, as one nation, subject together to the same hatred and malice, and fighting against it in consensus and partnership. When missiles are launched at our residents and cities, our answer will be war with all the strength, determination, valor, sacrifice and dedication which characterize this nation.
There is nothing we want more than peace and good neighborly relations in the east, north and south. We seek peace, we pursue peace and we yearn for peace. At the same time, there is nothing we reject more than an attempt to harm us and make us give up our right to live here, in our land, in security and peace.
On behalf of the people of Israel, on behalf of all the residents of the country, I came here today to announce to the world: we seek neither war nor direct confrontation, but we will not be deterred from them when the need arises. Only a nation that can defend its freedom truly deserves it. We are entitled to our freedom, and when necessary, we know how to fight for it and defend it.
The strength of the State of Israel relies on the strength and capability of the IDF. This strength is the main guarantee to preserving and defending our lives on this land. The best economic and human resources of Israeli society were invested in building this strength.
I want to extend from here my heartfelt gratitude and that of the Government and the people of Israel to the IDF soldiers and commanders, the security services, the Israel Police, the rescue forces, the firefighters and the other security forces.
I wish to read from the "Prayer for the Welfare of Soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces". Millions of Jews in Israel and the world pray for the safety and success of those who defend our nation, from the Lebanese border to the desert, and from the Great Sea unto the approach of the Arava, on the land, in the air and on the sea.
May the Almighty cause the enemies who rise up against us to be struck down before them.
May the Holy One, blessed be He, preserve and rescue our fighters from every trouble and distress and from every plague and illness, and may He send blessing and success in their every endeavor.
May He lead our enemies under our soldiers' sway and may He grant them salvation and crown them with victory.
The strength of a nation is measured not only by its military capabilities. The strength of a nation is measured by its welfare and morality, its strong and solid economy, its modern and developing market, its export of technologies and products for the most advanced world markets and its ground-breaking academic research. In all these, each and every one of us has good reason to be proud.
But above all, the strength of a nation is measured in times of trial, when the home front becomes the front, when the citizens of the country show admirable fortitude, patience and stamina and allow it to operate against its enemies.
I had the privilege of witnessing these inner strengths in the years when I was Mayor of Jerusalem. For years, our capital was subject to the most murderous terror attacks. The resilience, patience and restraint of the residents of Jerusalem and the entire citizens of Israel are exemplary.
I recall a conversation with Rudy Giuliani, who was Mayor of New York during the terror attacks of September 2001. I called to offer encouragement to him and the residents of New York following the collapse of the Twin Towers, and he replied: "Ehud, if the New Yorkers can withstand it like the Jerusalemites do, then we will defeat terrorism".
Even in these days, hundreds of thousands of Israelis stand at the front line of fire, like soldiers in the battlefield, fighting for our life and honor.
It is clear to us that the circumstances imposed upon the residents compel us to address their special needs, in all aspects. The government will lend immediate assistance, everywhere.
The government of Israel, under my leadership, derives strength from the stamina of the Israeli public. We are a brave and determined nation. I am proud today perhaps more than ever before to be an Israeli citizen.