(JNS.org) Legendary Israel Defense Forces commander Meir Har-Zion, who was once dubbed by Moshe Dayan as “the greatest Jewish warrior since Bar Kochba,” has died at 80.
Born in Herzliya in 1934, Har-Zion rose to fame in the 1950s as a leader in Israel’s first elite commando force, Unit 101, which was created by future Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to halt cross-border raids by Arab terrorists.
“In a short while, Har-Zion became the most daring fighter of Unit 101 and among the paratroopers, and also an excellent soldier, maybe the best the IDF has ever known,” Sharon wrote in his memoirs, according to Haaretz.
Har-Zion was also noted for a controversial incident in 1955, when he carried out a revenge killing of five Bedouins to avenge the death of his sister Shoshana and her boyfriend, who were murdered by Bedouins while hiking in the Judean mountains.
Nevertheless, after a six-month suspension, Har-Zion continued with his military service, leading an elite Paratroopers Brigade despite a life-threatening injury in 1956 that left him partially disabled. He served in the 1967 Six-Day War and 1973 Yom Kippur War.
In a statement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called him “one of our greatest heroes,” and a man who “was steeped in love for the nation and the land.”