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Brigadier General, Avigdor Kahalani
|Minister of Internal Security|
18 June 1996 – 6 July 1999
|Prime Minister||Benjamin Netanyahu|
|Preceded by||Moshe Shahal|
|Succeeded by||Shlomo Ben-Ami|
|Member of the Knesset|
23 June 1992 – 17 May 1999
16 June 1944 |
Ness Ziona, Mandate Palestine
|Political party||Third Way
Labor Party (formerly)
|Awards||Distinguished Service Medal
Medal of Valor
|Years of service||1962-1992|
7th Armored Brigade
Yom Kippur War
Avigdor Kahalani was born in Ness Ziona during the Mandate era. His parents, Moshe and Sarah Kahalani, were Yemenite-Jewish immigrants originally from Sana'a. Kahalani studied mechanics at the ORT School in Jaffa. He gained a B.A. in History from Tel Aviv University and an M.A. in Political Science from Haifa University. He also attended the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and graduated from Israel's National Defense College.
Kahalani was conscripted into the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in 1962, and joined the 7th Brigade of the IDF Armored Corps. He later stayed in the IDF as a career officer, and achieved the rank of Brigadier General. Kahalani received the Medal of Distinguished Service for service during the Six-Day War, where he was badly wounded when his M-48 Patton tank caught fire. When the Yom Kippur War broke out in 1973, Kahalani was a 29-year-old lieutenant Colonel and battalion commander. He served as commander of the Centurion-equipped 77th Armored Battalion of the 7th Brigade on the Golan Heights. Kahalani's battalion – along with other elements of the 7th Armored Brigade – engaged in fierce defensive fighting against a vastly superior Syrian mechanized force, consisting of more than 50,000 men and 1,200 tanks. The battle proved to be one of the turning points of the war. After the war, the valley where it took place was littered with hundreds of destroyed and abandoned Syrian tanks and was renamed "Emek Ha-Bacha" ("The Valley of Tears"). For his actions during the war Kahalani received the highest Israeli military decoration, the Medal of Valor.
After leaving the IDF, Kahalani made his way into politics. He served as Deputy Mayor of Tel Aviv, and was elected to the Knesset as a member of the Labor Party in the 1992 election, he served on the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense and the Education and Culture Committees. He has been active in the Committee for the Rescue of Jews from Yemen and Chairman of the Golan Lobby in the Knesset. He is also chairman of the Friends of LIBI Foundation and president of the Israeli Association for Drug Rehabilitation.
During the Knesset session, Kahalani broke away from the Labor Party and founded The Third Way with Emanuel Zisman. The new party won four seats in the 1996 elections, and joined Binyamin Netanyahu's coalition, with Kahalani made Minister of Internal Security.
However, in the 1999 elections the party failed to cross the electoral threshold and Kahalani lost his seat. He later joined Likud, and was placed 43rd on the party's list for the 2003 elections, but missed out on a seat when the party won only 38.
Since November 2007, Kahalani has been serving as chairman of the Organization for the Soldier.
- The Heights of Courage: A Tank Leader's War on the Golan (1975)
- A Warrior's Way (1989)
- Kahalani, Avigdor (1992). The heights of courage : a tank leader's war on the Golan (Paperback ed.). New York: Praeger. pp. About the Author. ISBN 978-0275942694.
- Tal Zagreba (31 October 2008). "We Were Like a Wounded Animal that Was Discarded and Fights for Its Life". Bamahane. No. 42nd Edition (2008). pp. 54–55.
- Police probe Likud members about alleged corruption in primary race The Jerusalem Post, 17 December 2002
- Avigdor Kahalani on the Knesset website