In 2013, we told you about Dr. Avi Yitzhak, the IDF's first Ethiopian combat doctor, who took part in Israel's team that helped recovery efforts after the Haitian earthquake in 2010. Now Israel Hayom reports that Dr. Yitzhak has reached another milestone - that of the IDF's first Ethiopian brigade commander:
Lt. Col. Avi Yitzhak has become the first Ethiopian Israeli to graduate the Israel Defense Forces' prestigious course for brigade commanders, which ended last week. Yitzhak is a doctor who heads the Combat Medical Branch in the Medical Corps.
Yitzhak will soon vie for a promotion to full colonel, making him the first Ethiopian in IDF history to earn such a rank.
After immigrating to Israel in 1991 at the age of 19 and studying Hebrew for a year at an absorption center, Yitzhak began his path in the IDF in the Medical Corps. He became the first Ethiopian Israeli to serve as a combat doctor, with both the Paratrooper Brigade and the elite Maglan unit. He later gained expertise as a surgeon. Yitzhak was also chief medical officer for the Gaza Division during Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012, during which he saved the life of a lieutenant colonel in the reserves who had been hit in the chest by shrapnel from a mortar round.
"I always felt the responsibility of representing the Ethiopian community," Yitzhak told Israel Hayom. "I was the first student from the community to study medicine in Israel and I believe, ultimately, that everything is dependent on the individual and the sky is the limit. In my community, people need to understand this."