Hero of Israel

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Hero of Israel

Hero of Israel (Hebrew: גיבור ישראל‎) is an Israeli military decoration that was awarded during the War of Independence. When the IDF was first established in May 1948, a system of decorations had not yet been instituted, but many soldiers who had distinguished themselves in battle were recommended by their officers for awards. The army command installed a committee to decide on a system of decorations, and a contest was written out for the public to design medals. However, after more than a year, no decisions had been taken and in the summer of 1949 it was decided that, as a “temporary solution", 12 decorations would be awarded to a selection of soldiers who were representative for the different IDF units and who had distinguished themselves by the highest level of heroism.

The number 12 was symbolic for the twelve tribes of Israel - while the title "Hero of Israel" resembles the Russian "Hero of the Soviet Union". (At the time, the newly founded Israel was on good terms with the Soviet Union, whose satellite Czechoslovakia provided much of the initial arms shipments for the IDF, and pro-Soviet feeling was widespread among Palmach fighters).

The award ceremony was held on July 17, 1949. After a military parade, Israeli President Chaim Weizmann, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and IDF Chief of Staff Yaakov Dori awarded the decoration to the recipients or their dependents (4 awards were given posthumously).

After this ceremony, the committee continued to work on a system of decorations, but it was never brought to a solution and so the Hero of Israel ribbon was never awarded again. Instead, in 1970 it was replaced with the Medal of Valor. All recipients of the Hero of Israel automatically received the Medal of Valor as well.

Design[edit]

The decoration is designed in the form of a red ribbon bar, charged with a clasp of the Israeli coat of arms made of gold.

Recipients[edit]

Name Rank Conflict Place of action Date of action Notes
Yair Racheli Private War of Independence Near Shefa-'Amr 19 Jan 1948 Received the medal for destroying an enemy position
Emmanuel Landau Private War of Independence Kiryat Motzkin 17 Mar 1948 Received the medal for capturing an enemy supply truck
Abraham Avigdorov Private War of Independence Kiryat Motzkin 17 Mar 1948 Received the medal for destroying two enemy Bren machine gun positions
Zerubavel Horowitz Second Lieutenant War of Independence Road to Jerusalem 27 Mar 1948 Received the medal for covering the retreat of his comrades from an enemy attack
Yizhar Armoni Private War of Independence Nabi Yusha 20 Apr 1948 Received the medal for covering the retreat of his comrades and evacuation of wounded soldiers
Emil Brig Sergeant War of Independence Kibbutz Gesher area 14 May 1948 Received the medal for blowing a bridge and thus preventing the enemy from advancing during
Zvi Zibel Airman War of Independence Ben Shemen 25 Jun 1948 Received the medal for delivering supplies to the besieged Ben Shemen while under heavy enemy fire
Ben-Zion Leitner Private First Class War of Independence Iraq Suwaydan 19 Oct 1948 Received the medal for destroying enemy bunkers during the Battles of the Separation Corridor
Ron Feller Sergeant War of Independence Karatiyya 19 Jul 1948 Received the medal for destroying an enemy tank in the Battle of Karatiyya
Yohai Ben-Nun Captain War of Independence Mediterranean Sea 22 Oct 1948 Received the medal for sinking the Egyptian Navy flagship
Siman-Tov Ganeh Private War of Independence Iraq Suwaydan 9 Nov 1948 Received the medal for covering the retreat of his comrades
Arieh Atzmoni Master Sergeant War of Independence Rafah 4 Nov 1948 Received the medal for rescuing a cannon from enemy hands

External links[edit]