Israeli President Reuven Rivlin praises wounded British military veterans as 'true heroes'

He was speaking at the end of the inaugural Veterans Games, where British and IDF veterans competed


Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin has praised a group of British military veterans as “true heroes” after hosting a delegation at his Jerusalem residence.

Speaking at a reception to honour participants in the first ever Veterans Games, the President also spoke of his support for sport as a means of therapy and enjoyment for injured soldiers.

With a UK delegation of more than 200 seated inside his Beit HaNassi residence alongside IDF veterans and  armed forces personnel, Mr Rivlin said: "I see true heroes here who served their country’s cause and went to war to preserve our values and protect us all. I would like to say: I salute you.

“I’m proud and honoured to see our own IDF veterans here who took part in the games. I salute you too.

“You all returned from battle but there were those - your comrades and friendship - who did not. Let’s pay tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice.”

He added that both the Duke of Cambridge, who made an official visit to Israel last year, and Prince Harry were “supporters of sport for injured veterans” and of other mental health initiatives.

Andrew Murrison, the new Middle East Minister said he was “humbled” addressing the British and Israeli veterans, adding that the UK’s relationship with Israel “couldn’t be closer”.

Mr Murrison, who had previously complied reports into the way veterans are treated in the UK said:”The mark of a decent society is the way it treats its veterans - that’s the essence of the military covenant.

“The armed forces in Israel and United Kingdom are the very best of us and I salute you.”

Also speaking at Thursday’s reception - chaired by the Israeli Embassy’s Michael Freeman - was former Royal Marine Matt Tomlinson who said his group of 60 wounded veterans found Israel “beautiful”.

He told the Israeli President: "I can honestly say we will never forget this truly amazing experience."

IDF veteran Hanoch Budin, a six time Paralympian, also gave an inspiring talk on his fight against the impact of losing his right arm in the 1982 Lebanon War.

The inaugural Veteran Games - conceived and developed by Beit Halochem UK chairman Andrew Wolfson together with the Israeli Embassy - concluded on Thursday.

They were inspired by the Prince Harry-founded Invictus Games.

The Games were funded by donations from The Patron Charitable Initiatives, The Pears Foundation, Rachel Charitable Trust, The Wolfson Family Charitable Trust, The Exilarch’s Foundation, The Maurice Wohl Charitable Foundation and The Charles Wolfson Charitable Trust.

The Chelsea FC Foundation provided a team of coaches to train the children of the British veterans at special sessions during the Games. They were also donors to the games.

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