IDF Names First Ethiopian-Born Colonel

The Fellowship  |  November 23, 2016

Smiling Ethiopian IDF Colonel leaning up against a tan railing.
IDF Names First Ethiopian-Born Colonel

Earlier this year, we told you about Dr. Avraham Yitzhak, the IDF’s first combat doctor and brigade commander. Now, The Tower reports that Dr. Yitzhak, currently leading the Israeli military’s operational medicine department, has been named the IDF’s first colonel of Ethiopian heritage:

In a historic first, an Ethiopian-Israeli has been nominated to be chief medical officer for the Israel Defense Forces’ Southern Command, putting him on track to be the first Israeli of Ethiopian heritage to hold the rank of colonel.

Lt. Col. Dr. Avraham Yitzhak was nominated by by IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot on Monday. He currently heads the Medical Corps’ operational medicine department.

Yitzhak had already started medical school in Addis Ababa before he arrived in Israel at the age of 19 in 1994. He then enrolled at Ben-Gurion University’s medical school. He did his army service as a surgeon after graduation, where he became the IDF’s first Ethiopian-Israeli doctor.

He originally served in the Paratroopers Brigade before transferring to Maglan, an elite unit that operates behind enemy lines. He was injured on the last day of fighting during the Second Lebanon War in 2006, while serving in the Nahal Brigade.

Yitzhak also served as a surgeon in the three recent wars against Hamas: Operation Cast Lead in 2009, Operation Defensive Shield in 2012, and Operation Protective Edge in 2014. Most recently he headed the IDF’s Medical Corps’ operational medicine department.

Yitzhak’s nomination brought “great pride” to the Ethiopian community in Israel, Shoshi Hadana, the chef at Havash, the first kosher Ethiopian restaurant in Israel, told the Times of Israel. “It lifts our heads…”