IDF officer killed in botched Gaza raid awarded citation of merit

Lt.-Col. "M" was killed by friendly fire during botched intelligence operation last November in Khan Younis.

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September 23, 2019 23:57
2 minute read.
Family of Lt.-Col. "M" presented with commendation by IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi

Family of Lt.-Col. "M" presented with commendation by IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi. (photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)

The IDF officer killed in a botched Gaza raid last year was awarded a citation of merit for his actions during the operation.

The commendation for Lt.-Col. “M.” was presented to the parents, wife and children of the officer by IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi at the officer’s home, along with the Head of Military Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Tamir Heyman and other commanders.

M. earned the citation of merit for “acting with his team behind enemy lines with determination, level-headedness and courage in order to defend his comrades with initiative and fearlessness, for taking a lead role in dominating the enemy, and for acting wisely in moving to dominate” the enemy, the military said.

The team taking part in the intelligence operation in November in the southern Gazan city of Khan Yunis were identified by Hamas members, leading to a firefight in which M. was killed by friendly fire, and another officer was moderately injured. Six Hamas terrorists, including the Khan Yunis commander Nur Barakeh, were also killed in the firefight.

M.’s actions were credited with being crucial to the complicated rescue operation, with Kochavi saying that his decisions stopped the situation from deteriorating even further.

“This was a remarkable case of outstanding heroism,” Kochavi said. “I know ‘M.’ from the days when he was a young officer in the Paratroopers Brigade. Alongside his many skills, he was a humble man, a man of truth, a man who knew that what you saw was what there was.”

Kochavi said the operation “could have ended much worse” if not for M.

“He made a decision by which he could create the conditions so that it would not deteriorate into a crisis with strategic implications,” said Kochavi. “I salute M. for the way he acted. Only those who have been in such situations know what strengths, pressures, and gravity of considerations lie on their shoulders and run through their head in this split second.”

The rescue operation was carried out by the Air Force’s 118th Night Riders Squadron, as well as members of the elite 669 Unit. The CH-53 Sea Stallion landed near the force under heavy fire to evacuate the troops and provide them with medical treatment.

At the same time, fighter jets along with helicopters and other IAF aircraft were deployed to assist in the striking of targets and to destroy the Israeli weapons that remained in the Gaza Strip.

Prior to the helicopter taking off, it was difficult to determine with certainty that the entire force had entered the aircraft, and despite the risk involved, the crew remained on the ground for several minutes to ensure that all troops had boarded the helicopter and that no one was left behind.

For their professionalism, courage and leadership in rescuing soldiers under enemy fire, citations were also awarded to the captain of the rescue helicopter, Maj. E.; to the co-pilot, Lt.-Col. (res.) N.; and to the airborne mechanic, Sgt.-Maj. K.

The medal of citation of the Tel Nof base commander was also given to the front airborne mechanic, Sgt.Maj.N., and to the Rescue Unit Fighters Team 669 commander Lt. A.; physician Maj. (res.) A.; paramedic Sgt.-Maj. C.; and medic Sgt.-Maj A.


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