Monday, May 5, 2014

Dror, you were and remain my leader

...For me you were and remain the admired commander whose character, professionalism, and leadership symbolized everything that is good about IDF officers as sons of this country.

Colonel Dror Weinberg z"l
Col. Amos Hacohen..
Israel Hayom..
05 May '14..

More than a decade has passed since you fell that Sabbath eve in the ambush in Hebron, the city of the patriarchs, and your image remains with me through my various command posts. As I find myself debating issues of leadership or operations, your figure hovers above, trying to guide, to help.

I've asked myself more than once -- what would Dror do in this situation?

To me, you were a man and an officer who perfectly combined a constant, uncompromising demand for achievement -- firm and stubborn, sometimes harsh in your demand for results -- with the image of an officer who was also a teacher. You not only inculcated military professionalism but also spoke about our role as educators of our soldiers, about the importance of the officer in building the soldier's moral spirit, not only during his military service, but for the rest of his life.

I remember one discussion in which you talked about the educational approach used by Janusz Korczak, the orphanage teacher who chose to die with the children when they were deported from the Warsaw Ghetto to the Treblinka concentration camp. You spoke about the great similarity between his commitment to the children some 60 years earlier and our requirements from combat leaders. You believed, as he did, that we must know our soldiers well, that to mold them as fighters we must live in their world and with their needs.

You were a determined, painstaking officer who demanded excellence from us. In less than a year as commander of the Maglan Unit you changed its operational tactics and made it one of the Israel Defense Forces' top operational units in sectors from Lebanon to Gaza.

I remember well the end of an exhausting week I put my soldiers through, a long week of facing movement in tough territory -- marching dozens of miles day and night in the heat of the Jordan Valley, carrying heavy equipment. We finished the week with a final drill, and you arrived at the end of it. We saw you jump out of the jeep and immediately check on us, suggesting what could be improved, reprimanding us for not maintaining strict enough military discipline.

You informed us that we had to go back and execute the last part of the drill again until we could carry it out perfectly, and that's what we did. And you didn't just tell us, you did it yourself, marching with us through the long hours of the night until we reached our goal. For me you were and remain the admired commander whose character, professionalism, and leadership symbolized everything that is good about IDF officers as sons of this country.

I wasn't surprised when I heard how you were killed, on Friday night, Nov. 15, 2002. As a devoted son of the Jewish people and the Jewish nation you felt it was necessary to have personal contact, to influence the mission from up close, to be near combatants in the field. And that's how it happened.

You left the command headquarters in Hebron, jumping into the ambush by an Islamic Jihad terror cell near the path that led from Kiryat Arba to the Tomb of the Patriarchs. You went into the heart of the event, and the terrorists hit you with a round of fire. You continued to command until your last moments.

Today, as commander of a combat brigade, your image accompanies me as I deal with the daily challenges of a complicated, sensitive operational environment.

May your memory be blessed.


Col. Amos Hacohen, commander of the Gaza Division's Southern Brigade, served as company commander under Col. Dror Weinberg, who headed the IDF's Maglan special forces unit from 1998 to 1999 and was killed while serving as commander of the Judea Brigade.

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