Former IDF chief Amnon Lipkin-Shahak dies at 68


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Former Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, who served in the IDF for 36 years and was also a government minister, has died.

Lipkin-Shahak died Wednesday at the age of 68 of cancer.

Lipkin-Shahak was born in Tel Aviv in 1944 and enlisted in the Paratroopers Brigade in 1963. He served in the Six-Day War, and was awarded the Medal of Courage twice during his years of service.

He became the 15th IDF chief of staff in 1995, replacing Ehud Barak. He left the IDF in 1998.

Lipkin-Shahak was elected to the Knesset in 1999 as a member of the Center Party, and became tourism minister. He later also became transportation minister. He left the Center Party in order to join the One Israel Party, led by Barak and eventually resigned from the Knesset in 2001.

Lipkin-Shahak was eulogized Wednesday by Israeli military leaders and political leaders across the political spectrum.  

"Amnon was a true hero who carried the torch of peace, a rare and exceptionally wise man. His students and soldiers saw him as a role model like no other, they trusted every word he said and people queued at his door seeking his wisdom, honesty and courage. His contribution to the security of Israel is unparalleled. He received two medals awarded for his courage, his wisdom and his leadership. Amnon was a model man throughout his life, standing tall and acting justly. I loved him deeply," said Israeli President Shimon Peres in a statement.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called him "a beloved hero who dedicated his life to the security of the State of Israel."

"He was one of the pillars of Israel’s defense and security for the past two generations, a man loved and revered by all who knew him," said Defense Minister Ehud Barak. "Amnon was an example of courage, leadership and tenacity, both in his military life and his political one. Throughout his life he pursued Israel’s security and peace. He was an extraordinary man."

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