Today in history: General Bar Lev

Today in 1994, Chaim Bar-Lev passed away, one of the greatest military leadres in Israel’s history.

Bar-Lev was born in Rotzlavsky, Austria in 1924, and grew up in Zagreb, Yugoslavia (Croatia today). Bar Lev immigrated to Israel at the end of the Fifth Aliyah (followed by the rest of his family), shortly before the Second World War (during which Yugoslavia and its Jewish community were almost completely destroyed), and joined the Palmach. Bar-Lev leapt up the ranks in light of his talent, and by the time the War of Independence he was already a battalion commander, and had participated in battles on the Egyptian front. In contrast to most of the Palmach Guardia, Bar-Lev remained in the IDF, and became the first brigade commander of the Givati Brigade. In the Six-Day War, Bar-Lev was the Deputy Chief of Staff, and in 1968 he replaced Yitzhak Rabin as Chief of Staff. In his role, Bar-Lev was forced to deal with the war of attrition that Egypt had led, and he built an effective line of defense made of posts, named after him – the Bar-Lev Line. Bar Lev left office in 1972, and became Minister of Trade and Industry under Golda. In the 1973 war, the Bar-Lev line failed, but Bar Lev himself returned to the reserves and became the acting commander of the Southern Command, and managed to stop the Egyptians and tip the scales in the war. In 1977, Bar-Lev became a member of Knesset – just in time for his party to fall from power and go to the opposition. During the 80s, Bar Lev became Minister of Police for 6 years, and in 1992 he became Ambassador to Russia. He died suddenly in 1994 from muscular dystrophy.

Photo Source: Wikipedia

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