Down to his final moments battling leukemia before he died on Wednesday, former
IDF chief of staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Amnon Lipkin-Shahak showed the courage
and conduct befitting one of the country’s greatest military commanders,
President Shimon Peres said on Thursday.
“I came to see you at the
hospital, and you looked the same as usual – in total control of yourself,” he
recalled before a crowd of hundreds at the Kiryat Shaul military cemetery in Tel
Aviv, where Lipkin-Shahak’s funeral was held.
“Without a drop of
self-pity or concern, at this moment you worried about the people, the country,
the future,” Peres continued. “‘I’m leaving, I’m not surrendering,’ you told me
in your quiet, noble voice. There was never a tear in your eyes or sigh
in your voice. This battle, too, you commanded yourself.”
among the masses of mourners who came to bid farewell to Lipkin-Shahak on
Thursday. Among the others were Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, ministers and
parliamentarians from across the political spectrum, and former and current
brass from all branches of the security services.
Lipkin-Shahak was “a
true hero,” Netanyahu said at the funeral. “It is no secret we had a difference
of opinions, but I always appreciated his deep commitment to the state’s
The prime minister lauded the country’s 15th chief of staff as
a man who was “brave of heart” and a patriotic Zionist.
preceded him,” Netanyahu said, noting that Lipkin-Shahak had excelled in every
walk of life.
Addressing Lipkin-Shahak’s family, the prime minister – who
lost his brother, Yonatan, in Operation Entebbe in 1976 and also recently lost his father – sympathized that there was no greater pain
than the loss of a loved one.
“But further than this private pain, there
is also the pain of the nation,” he said, stressing that a heavy sense of
mourning had descended on the country following news of Lipkin-Shahak’s
In their eulogies, men like Defense Minister Ehud Barak and IDF
Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz, who spent the better part of their adult
lives in combat and burying friends who died too young, appeared genuinely
shaken by Lipkin-Shahak’s passing at age 68. One of those men, former Shin Bet
(Israel Security Agency) director Yaakov Peri, sat in the second row, next to
Tel Aviv Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, and wiped away tears for nearly the
A former tourism and transportation minister,
Lipkin-Shahak received a full military funeral, and six major-generals carried
his coffin, which was draped in the national flag, to his
Lipkin-Shahak first made his fight with leukemia known in 1995,
before he became chief of staff. His career in army green began decades earlier,
when he enlisted in the IDF in 1962, and that 36-year journey ended with his
retirement as chief of staff in 1998.
Along the way, he was awarded the
Medal of Courage twice – first as a captain fighting the PLO in Karameh, Jordan,
and later as a lieutenant-colonel in 1973’s Operation Spring of Youth in
Lebanon. In the latter operation, he led a group of Paratroop Reconnaissance
commandos disguised as civilians in a nighttime raid on a PFLP base in
He later fought as a deputy Paratroop Brigade commander in the
Sinai peninsula in the Yom Kippur War. Ten years after that, he became OC
Central Command, and three years later, the head of Military
Finally, in 1995, he replaced Barak as chief of
Barak spoke of Lipkin-Shahak on Thursday as a former comrade in
arms and a friend of decades.
Barak recalled meeting with him the night
before Spring of Youth, expressing his concerns about the operation while they
sat on a balcony in Ramle.
The defense minister described how they had
set off in rubber boats toward the Beirut coast and returned separately, and the
trust he had placed in the cool, steady command of Lipkin-Shahak – a man whose
military and political career was closely tied to his own, and who he said had
helped inspire him about the importance of finding a diplomatic solution to
Israel’s conflicts with the Palestinians and the Arab world.
through life and among us as a prince. Amnon was a clear model of courage, in
the face of enemy fire in the battlefield, against our enemies, and in all paths
in his life,” Barak said, adding, “Amnon, I loved you, even though we would
never have spoken like this when you were alive. I will miss you for the rest of
The last eulogy was given by Lipkin-Shahak’s widow and second
wife, journalist and TV personality Tallie Lipkin-Shahak, whose words moved many
in the crowd to tears.
“My love, my eternity, what will my life look like
without you? Our time was short to begin with because we started so late,” she
said. “I always want more and the best, but the best I already had – you. I
already won the prize, you. I learned so much from you and taught you so much, I
will be yours always.”
As she finished her speech, the clouds opened up
again, and the rain began to pour. Arik Einstein’s song “Od Nipagesh” (“We’ll
Meet Again”) played, and she sang along to the words: “We’ll meet again, and
things will be good for us, it will be soon, soon the two of us will be
Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.