The Givati Brigade Association, which honors the legacy and provides support to the IDF unit’s soldiers, celebrated the 40th anniversary of the brigade’s reconstitution with a mega-celebration at the International Convention Center (ICC) in Jerusalem.
More than 3,000 active-duty Givati Brigade soldiers attended Thursday’s event. Joining them were Defense Ministry officials, IDF Southern Command head Maj. Gen. Eliezer Toledano, former commanders, families of fallen Givati fighters, veterans and other public figures.
The evening began with a private dinner together with bereaved families of fallen Givati soldiers and former senior officers of the brigade, including several who fought in the 1948-49 War of Independence.
They then joined thousands of active soldiers and other guests for speeches by senior officers, musical entertainment by Givati soldiers, and screenings of films showcasing the brigade’s distinguished history.
Itzhak Levit, a former commander of the brigade’s Rotem Battalion and the decade-long chairman of the Givati Brigade Association, spoke about the association’s connection to the brigade:
“For more than 40 years, since Givati was reconstituted, its mishpacha echad (“united family”) has been the tip of the spear in the IDF’s fight to secure our homeland,” Levit said.
“This amazing brigade is made up of four different units, but it has a fifth, special, unit operating quietly and endlessly in the background. This unit is not equipped with guns, but instead derives its power from its 26 board members, bereaved families, former fighters, and commanders of this Brigade who are now in their 90s, who continue to take part in many activities to make sure that all of the needs of this our family are taken care of,” he added.
“I know I can speak for everyone here and those looking down on us and I’m proud of how far we’ve come and how far our mishpacha, family, is set to go,” said Levit.
Givati was founded in 1947. It fought in the War of Independence, securing Israel’s South and succeeding in the battle against an Egyptian force five times its size. In 1955, it was transitioned into a reserve brigade, but following the First Lebanon War it was reconstituted by IDF leadership in 1983.
The Givati Brigade Association is charged with preserving the brigade’s legacy and paying homage to its 1,165 fallen soldiers at the Yoav Fortress (“Metzudat Yoav”) Fallen Soldiers Memorial Hall east of Ashkelon, and through preserving more than 50 monuments across Israel’s South.
It hosts annual programs and retreats for the families of Givati’s fallen heroes and supports soldiers and their families in need through the distribution of monthly food packages to families of active-duty soldiers, emotional and financial support to lone soldiers (without family in Israel who can help them) and creating opportunities for mentoring, academic scholarships and training programs for recently discharged Givati soldiers.