The last commander to lead the IDF troops who defended the besieged Gush Etzion bloc in 1948, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Avraham “Abrasha” Tamir has passed away at age 86.
Tamir, who served in the IDF from the time of the 1948 War of Independence to the 1982 Lebanon War, died Monday in Tel Aviv.
He is known as one of the first officials in Israel to have been allowed to meet with Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Chairman Yasser Arafat, and for his long support for an independent PA state.
But in the 1996 election, despite a leftist background, he backed Likud party chairman Binyamin Netanyahu after repeated disappointments with the Palestinian Authority made it clear the Oslo process was an exercise in futility.
The author of numerous training manuals, planning documents and combat doctrines, Tamir headed the IDF Staff and Command College. He was close to many of the country’s past military and political leaders – Ariel Sharon, Yitzchak Rabin, and Ezer Weizman, to name a few.
Rabin was Tamir’s direct commander when he served as head of the Operations Unit of the IDF General Staff in the 1950s.
Tamir was the driving force behind Defense Minister Ezer Weizman’s creation of the National Security Unit in the late 1970s, and it was he who Weizman chose to become its first director – a post he continued to hold when Sharon succeeded Weizman as minister. Tamir had served in the IDF with Sharon during the Yom Kippur War; the two had been close since the 1950s.
In 1974 Tamir founded and directed the IDF Strategic and Policy Planning Branch, which was established under both the Minister of Defense and the Chief of Staff. He also attended the 1978 Camp David Summit as part of the Israeli delegation. As such, he headed the Security Committee that negotiated bilateral security arrangements between Israel and Egypt, and with respect to PA autonomy in accordance with the Camp David Accords.
After leaving the IDF Tamir became Director-General of the Prime Minister’s Office and was appointed National Security Adviser by Prime Minister Shimon Peres. He later became the Director-General of the Foreign Ministry, and from 1990 served as Special Assistant to President Ezer Weizman.
His most recent publication, in 2000, was “A New Paradign for Arab-Israeli Peacemaking: A Comprehensive Regional System for Security and Cooperation,” published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
His body still bears a Jordanian bullet from the 1948 war. In the battle he received a wound so complex that the bullet could not removed. Tamir was captured by the Jordanians in the same battle.
In fact, he participated in all of Israel’s wars, and was wounded in action three times.
He will be laid to rest on Tuesday at the Mt. Herzl military cemetery in Givat Shaul, his body borne on the shoulders of six major-generals.