David Elazar Dies

Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces Lt. General David Elazar is born in 1925 in Yugoslavia, moving to Palestine in 1940, where he attends the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Joining the Palmach before the 1948 War, he fights in many important battles, building a reputation as a courageous soldier.  He quickly rises through the ranks of the IDF, becoming the commander of the HaPortzim Battalion of the Harel Brigade. In 1964, Elazar becomes Chief of the Northern Command, and during the June 1967 War leads the capture of the Golan Heights from Syria.

As result of his numerous military successes, Elazar is appointed Chief of Staff of the IDF in 1972. In his first year, Israel faces two major terrorist attacks: the Lod Airport Massacre (May 30, 1972), which claims the lives of 25 civilians and the Munich Olympics Massacre (September 5-6, 1972), which claims the lives of 11 Israeli Olympic coaches and athletes. In response, Elazar orders attacks against Palestinian military compounds in Syria and Lebanon.

After the October 1973 War with Egypt and Syria, the Agranat Commission, which investigates the many military blunders that occur during the war, comes to the conclusion that, “Chief of Staff, Lt.-General David Elazar, bears personal responsibility for what happened on the eve of the war with regard to both evaluation of the situation and the question of the IDF’s preparedness. We state this with particular regret as it involves a soldier who has served the State with devotion and distinction for many years and has splendid achievements to his credit during and before the Six Day War. … In the light of what has been stated above we regard it as our duty to recommend the termination of Lt.-General David Elazar’s appointment as Chief of Staff.”

Following the report, Elazar resigns from post stating, “I see no possibility to continue in my position despite the fact that I believe the errors attributed to me and the weight given to them do not justify the severe conclusions the commission has made concerning me.” (Source: UPI)  Elazar passes away from a heart attack at the age of 50 on April 14, 1976.

The photo shows David Elazar in a helicopter during the October 1973 War. Photo Source: Israeli Government Press Office