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Israelis You Should Know: Meir Har-Zion

IDF hero Meir Har-Zion in combat uniform by airplane (Photo: wikicommons)

Name: Meir Har-Zion

Life: February 25, 1934 - March 14, 2014

Known for: Meir Har-Zion was an Israeli soldier who was described by IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Dayan as "the finest of our commando soldiers, the best soldier ever to emerge in the IDF," and by Ariel Sharon as "the elite of the elite."

About him: Meir Har-Zion was born in Herzliya, then a farming community named after the father of Zionism, Theodor Herzl. Young Meir loved the Holy Land that was his and his family's home, often exploring it with his younger sister, Shoshana. Two of these excursions, when Meir and Shoshana were young teens, resulted in the siblings being caught and detained by Syrian authorities. The second instance found them imprisoned in Damascus, only being released after help from the Israeli government and the United Nations. During this same time, trekking to the ancient city of Petra was considered an impossible feat by Israeli youth. Meir and his girlfriend, equipped only with a compass and a small map, reached and explored Petra, making them legends in Israel before they were adults.

Meir carried this sense of adventure and love of the Holy Land into adulthood. He was one of the original members of the legendary IDF Commando Unit 101 which was founded and commanded by Ariel Sharon and carried many dangerous and covert missions to protect the young state of Israel.

In 1955, Meir's beloved sister Shoshana was murdered by Bedouins while hiking in the Judean desert, a murder which Meir avenged. His military career was to be cut short the next year during a battle against Jordan. Injured in the throat and arm, Meir's life was saved by a battlefield tracheotomy. Due to his wounds, however, he had to leave the IDF, being awarded the Medal of Courage and having reached the rank of Captain.

Over a decade later, though, Meir Har-Zion's service was needed again. This time, during the Six-Day War in 1967, he served alongside the paratroopers with only the use of one arm. At one point, a Jordanian sniper was targeting Israeli soldiers. On his own, Har-Zion stalked the sniper across rooftops and neutralized him with hand grenades.

Six years passed, and Har-Zion again served his country in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. This time, he fought deep within Syrian territory, rescuing wounded IDF soldiers caught behind enemy lines.

Meir Har-Zion lived the rest of his life on the farm he named for his sister, Ahuzat Shoshana, where he passed away peacefully at the age of 80, a true Israeli hero.


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