Every nation has its "greatest generation," and for Israel that is generally viewed as being those who put on the uniform of the IDF in the two decades immediately following the establishment of the State of Israel.
From 1948 through the 1960s, Israeli forces faced and overcame seemingly insurmountable odds time and again, leading many of Israel's Arab enemies to believe that the IDF was simply invincible.
Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, a star among Israel's greatest generation, died on Wednesday following a lengthy battle with leukemia. He was 68 years old, and left behind a wife and five grown children.
Lipkin-Shahak served in the Israeli army for 36 years, during which he was twice awarded the Medal of Courage for his battlefield leadership in Operation Inferno (1968) and Operation Spring of Youth (1973).
He later went on to become IDF chief of staff in 1995, and retired from the army to join politics in 1998. Lipkin-Shahak's brief stint in the Knesset revealed centrist positions, with him seemingly sliding further to the left following his party's defeat in the 2001 election.
Despite his leftist views regarding Jewish settlement of Judea and Samaria, senior figures in those communities fondly recalled his years as head of Israel's Central Command.
Knesset Member Uri Ariel (National Union) upon learning of Lipkin-Shahak's passing said that during Ariel's time as head of the main settler council he "had the pleasure of getting to know [Lipkin-Shahak] well in his capacity as the commander of the IDF’s Central Division. I salute a man who spent most of his years fighting for Israel’s security.
While this writer strongly disagreed with much of Lipkin-Shahak's politics, it is nevertheless sobering to see Israel lose yet another of its old warhorses. Nearly all of Israel's greatest generation have now succumbed to age and sickness (and in Yitzhak Rabin's case, assassination), and their experience and guidance will be sorely missed in the years to come.