Reserve Maj.-Gen. Moshe Bar-Kochba, regarded as one of Israel’s brilliant military tacticians, died Nov. 19 of a heart attack and was buried the following day in Tel Aviv with full military honors. He was 62.
Bar-Kochba, known popularly by his original last name, Brill, was often in conflict with fellow generals over his ultranationalist views.
He was cited for negligence in 1984 by then army Chief of Staff Moshe Levy in connection with fatal beatings of two Arab bus hijackers who were already in custody.
But neither Bar-Kochba nor the Shin Bet official involved in the beatings during interrogation was directly implicated in the incident.
Bar Kochba resigned from the army two years ago in protest against failure to heed his recommendations as senior adviser to the general staff.
He was chided by army Chief of Staff Dan Shomron for publicly airing his complaints that Israel’s military leadership had not learned from mistakes and was not prepared for a war.
Bar-Kochba was born in Poland in 1930 and immigrated to Palestine at the age of 12. He linked up with Irgun Zva’i Leumi, the underground group headed by the late Menachem Begin, at age 16 and joined the Israel Defense Force when it was established in 1948.
He was awarded a medal of valor as a tank company commander in the 1956 Sinai campaign against Egypt. During the Six-Day War in 1967, he commanded a tank brigade and was wounded in a battle with the Jordanians that led to the Israeli capture of the Samaria region of the West Bank.
Despite his wounds, he refused to be evacuated and went on to lead his brigade against the Syrians in the battle for the Golan Heights.
In the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Bar-Kochba commanded a divisional tank formation against Syrian and Iraqi forces. He later served as chief of the Southern Command and commander of the armored corps.
Bar-Kochba joined the right-wing Likud bloc and was appointed director-general of the Israel Railways Authority, a post he held at the time of his death.