January 8, 2008
Moshe Levi, the first Mizrahi chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces, dies at age 72 of a brain aneurysm at HaEmek Medical Center in Afula a week after suffering his second stroke. He is buried at Kibbutz Beit Alpha, his longtime home in northern Israel, in a ceremony attended by hundreds of generals and government officials.
Levi was known as Moshe VaHetzi (Moshe and a Half) because he was so tall. A TV comedy, “HaGashash HaHiver,” mocked him as Musa Wanus, the Arabic version of Moshe and a Half.
He was born in Tel Aviv in 1936 to a family from Iraq. He started his military service in the Golani infantry brigade and later transferred to the paratroopers. He served as the 12th IDF chief of staff from 1983 to 1987, succeeding Rafael Eitan.
As chief of staff, he led the creation of a security zone in southern Lebanon after the 1982 war. He integrated new armament into the IDF, reduced the army’s size, and founded the Ground Forces branch, which included the Nahal and Givati brigades.
After his military retirement, Levi chaired the board for Highway 6, known as the Trans-Israel Highway, a fast route connecting northern and southern Israel while bypassing congested Tel Aviv.