Rafael Eitan, born on 1929, was the 11th IDF Chief of Staff. Eitan served his country as a military commander for over 38 years and is considered one of the most courageous officers of all times. Even before appointed Chief of Staff, Eitan had a great influence on the army and led it to many achievements. These are some of his career’s greatest achievements:
- IDF’s first operational parachute drop – In 1956, as part of the Sinai Campaign that was launched in order to provide peace and security to the citizens of Israel, Eitan, as commander of the 890 Paratroopers battalion, led the battalion’s historic jump deep in the Sinai Peninsula. After landing, the battalion took part in the Battle for the Mitla Pass, one of the IDF’s most impressive and bold victories in its history.
- Conquering the highest point on Mt. Hermon – In April 1974, short after being appointed Northern Command GOC, Eitan commanded a military operation that led to the capture of a highly important strategic location- The Mt. Hermon‘s peak.
Standing at 2,800 Meters high, the Mt. Hermon’s peak is one of the most challenging battlefields in Israel. A combined force of 60 soldiers from the elite units Sayeret Matkal and the Alpine Unit, made their way to the top of the mountain, where they encountered Syrian commando soldiers. Though the Israeli force suffered 12 casualties, the operation was considered a highly successful. Years after the battle, its commander, Amiram Levin stated that it was one of the most important in Israel’s history.
- Establishing the Talpiot program – During Eitan’s service as Chief of Staff, the Talpiot program was launched. Talpiot uses the extraordinary minds of Israel’s brightest youth for developing ground-breaking technology. These recruits, who undergo many tests to qualify for the program, complete a Bachelors Degree at the Hebrew University, while studying special subjects that link the IDF with the latest scientific developments. After completing 40 months of schooling and training, the graduates receive officer ranks and are integrated into the various development and research units of the IDF.
- Launching IDF’s Center for Promoting Special Populations– As Chief of the General Staff, Rafael Eitan began an unprecedented and visionary project in 1979 providing teens coming from difficult backgrounds with the opportunity to turn their lives around through a meaningful IDF service. He understood that a military service was often the last chance for many teens to pursue a higher education and thus a more successful future. Approximately 1,200 new recruits enter the project each year. 90% of the recruits complete the program and go on to serve in different roles in the IDF. 75% serve the full mandatory three years, while 10% serve in combat units.