Israeli Heroes

In honor of all the Israeli soldiers who were killed in action. These are the stories of Israeli heroes who were killed in action. Most of them unknown outside Israel

David Shirazi (1947–1967) is the recipient of the Israeli Medal of Valor for his courage during the 1967 battle on Tel Faher in Syria during the Six Days War. 

David Shirazi grew up in Tel Aviv. He excelled in sport. He joined the Golani Brigade in 1965 and served as a soldier in battalion 12. In the Six Days War he fought on the Golan Heights. He participated in the battle on the Syrian fortification Tel Faher.

Private David Shirazi was part of the assault team that had to climb up the 100 meters rigged slope under heavy Syrian mortar and machine gun fire to reach the barbed wire fence. When the attempt to blow up the barb wires in front of the Syrian bunkers failed, realizing that wire cutters would have taken too long, David lay himself across the wire and told his comrades to use his body as a bridge. Once his unit crossed over, he ran forward while carrying on his back 25 pounds of mortar shells. As he fought his way, he handed the shells to the mortar operators. When he ran out of mortar shells, he charged forward and caught up with his company commander. When the machine gunner fell wounded, he took his weapon and continued the attack until he was killed from a bullet to his head by a Syrian sharpshooter.

The Israeli term “lying on the fence” to describe an ultimate sacrifice was born out of David Shirazi’s action on Tel Faher.

Tel Faher is now a park commemorating those who died in the battle.

A Syrian bunker on Tel Faher

Oded Amir (1950-1973) is the recipient of the Israeli Medal of Valor for his courage during an underwater commando operation near Port Said, in Egypt during the Yom Kipur War in 1973.

Oded Amir grew up in kibutz Gesher Haziv. He joined the IDf in 1968 and volunteered to serve in the Israeli Sayret 13 (the naval commando unit, equivalent to the US SEAL, or the British Special Boat Service). After completing his basic training, he went to officer schools. After graduation, he took part in many daring operations.

In the Yom Kippur War he led a commando force of two pairs that got through the steel net around the Egyptian naval base in Port Said. Oded Amir and Eli Kimchi went on a mission to attach mines to an Egyptian missile and torpedo boats. They sunk three boats, but never came back, It is assumed that they were killed by depth charges.

Eli Kimchi (1951-1973) is the recipient of the Israeli Medal of Courage for his courage during an underwater commando operation near Port Said, in Egypt during the Yom Kipur War in 1973.

Eli grew up in Acre. He graduated from the Naval Officer’s high school in Acre and joined the navy. He was a mechanic on a missile boat when he volunteered to Syaret 13. He was Odded Amir’s teammate on the night when they sunk three Egyptian torpedo and missile boats, but never returned.

 Zvi Ofer (1932–1968) also known as “Tzvika Ofer” or “Zvika Ofer” He is the recipient of the Israeli Medal of Valor for his courage during the 1962 Nuqeib operation in Syria. 

Ofer’s parents moved to Eretz Israeli during the Third Aliyah, when the country was under British rule. They were among the founders of the settlement Kfar Azar. Ofer joined the Jewish underground the Haganah when he was a teenager. He initially delivered Haganah newspapers to its subscribers, hung pro-Haganah posters in the middle of the night and oiled the guns belonging to the settlement.

At sixteen, he left school and joined the Palmach, the elite strike force of the Haganah. He fought in the 1948 Israeli War of Independence , and participated in Operation Danny that captured the cities  Lod and Ramle. He was sent to officer’s training. In the midst of his training, he learned that his Palmach unit was gearing up for Operation Yoav, an offensive in the Negev region. He left officer’s school to join his unit in time for the offensive.

After the 1948 War of Independence, he returned to civilian life and worked for the national water company Mekorot. In 1952 he was re-enlisted and completed the officer’s school. After graduation, he assembled and commanded a unit that tracked down Arab guerilla infiltrators. Later, he volunteered to the paratroopers’ battalion 890 and partook in many reprisal operations of the 1950s. During Operation Kadesh, Ofer commanded a paratroop platoon that took part in the Battle for the Mitla Pass. Later, forces under his command took part in the taking of the Sharm el-Sheikh military base, thus clearing the way for Israeli shipping to pass through the Gulf of Aqaba, which had hitherto been blocked by Egyptian cannon.

In the early 1960s, he was given a command position within Sayeret Golani and was ordered to reorganize it by the brigade commander Mordechai Gur (later the IDF chief of staff). His unit became known as “The Flying Tiger”. In 1962, Syrian artillery on the Golan Heights bombarded Israeli civilian targets, including fishermen on the Sea of Galilee. The Israel Defense Forces felt that retaliation was warranted and chose a Syrian military target near the village of Nuqeib. Ofer’s unit played a central role in operation Snunit (Swallow) which resulted in the destruction of the chosen targets. During the operation, while his unit was under heavy enemy fire, Ofer took the place of commanders who were injured and charged forward, leading his forces toward the Syrian positions, while firing his machine-gun and throwing grenades. For his actions, he was awarded the Israeli Medal of Valor for his courage in battle.

During the Six-Day War, his battalion was assigned to capturing Bethlehem and Hebron, which fell without a shot. Following the Six-Day War, Ofer was appointed military governor of Hebron and Shechem and was lauded for his performance in those roles.

Ofer wanted to rejoin a combat unit and after a request, was assigned command of the Haruv Reconnaissance Unit. The unit’s primary responsibility was to conduct special reconnaissance and scout along Israel’s border with Jordan in order to combat Arab guerrilla infiltration in the Jordan Valley.

In 1968, Ofer was killed in action in Wadi Qelt, west of Jericho, while in pursuit of militants who had crossed the Jordan river. The Arab guerrillas were on their way to attack civilian targets and the force led by Ofer intercepted them before they could reach their target. Ofer was the sole Israeli fatality in the engagement which also resulted in the killing of two guerrillas and the capture of six others along with a large weapons cache.

Israeli Defense Minister, and the IDF chief of staff were at his funeral.  At his graveside, the Commanding Officer of the Central Command, General Rehavam Ze’evi said of Zvi Ofer, “the figure Zvika, the country boy, the youth in the Palmach, the scout, the commander, and the instructor, will remain engraved in our hearts”.

Ofer was married and had four children.

The IDF Camp Ofer and Ofer Prison, founded in December 1968, are named after him.

 

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