Days after a covert Israel Defense Forces’ operation inside Gaza went awry, and Lt. Col. M. was killed under heroic circumstances, officials say there are grounds to grant him and another officer the military’s highest honor, the Medal of Valor, for their actions in battle.
Due to the sensitive nature of their work in the military, the names of the two officers have not been released for publication.
According to information approved by the military censor, the covert squad entered Gaza in disguise on an intelligence-gathering mission and was discovered at a checkpoint near Khan Yunis, in southern Gaza, where the soldiers engaged in a firefight with Hamas operatives.
Lt. Col. M., a Druze officer, was reportedly killed while drawing fire away from his comrades and allowing them to escape.
The other officer made a charge towards M.’s position to try to save him, and after managing to kill three terrorists, reached M.’s vehicle but was badly wounded in the process.
According to various reports and statements from senior officials, Lt. Col. M. sacrificed his life to save his comrades.
The Medal of Valor–Israel’s highest decoration—was last given 43 years ago. Only 40 soldiers have received the honor for “performing a supreme act of valor while facing the enemy and risking their life.”
The Medal of Courage, the country’s second-highest decoration, was last given to Lt. (res.) Eitan Fund for his actions during “Operation Protective Edge” in Gaza in 2014. Fund ran into an underground tunnel on his own, armed only with a pistol, in an attempt to save a comrade, Lt. Hadar Goldin. Fund was considered for the Medal of Valor for that act.
Although it is still too early to say with certainty that Lt. Col. M. and his fellow officer receive a medal, similar acts of heroism from past battles have resulted in the highest medals.
Brig. Gen. (res.) Avigdor Kahalani, who received the Medal of Valor and the Medal of Distinguished Service for his actions on the Golan Heights during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, said “it seems from a gut feeling and from past events that these acts demand citations.”