66 years ago, in the lead-up to the 1948 War of Independence, the leadership of the Haganah formed the Golani Infantry Brigade. Three months later, the State of Israel was established. Golani’s soldiers were called on to defend the fledgling state from what seemed like almost certain destruction. This week, a new generation of Golani soldiers graduated from their basic training. Their mission: to continue Golani’s proud tradition of protecting Israel.
The Golani Infantry Brigade was founded as part of six regional brigades, established a full three months before the establishment of the State of Israel. Since then, the Golani Brigade has fought in all major wars and nearly all major operations throughout Israel’s history.
Golani was called to action for the first time after May 15th, 1948, when Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Transjordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and the Arab Liberation Army (volunteers from various Arab countries) attacked Israel on the night of its Declaration of Independence. The brigade’s soldiers successfully repelled the Syrian Army in the Battle of the Kinarot Valley and Iraqi forces in the Battle of Gesher. After pushing back the Arab Liberation Army and capturing a number of villages in the Jordan Valley, the force was largely transferred to the south to fight the Egyptian Army. In the war’s final act, Golani was tasked with capturing Umm-Rashrash, now known as Eilat.
On October 6, 1973 – Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar – the militaries of Syria and Egypt launched a surprise assault on IDF forces in the Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula, respectively. IDF forces suffered heavy losses but ultimately overcame the combined attack. The Golani Brigade fought valiantly in the Golan Heights during the war, playing an important role in the IDF’s victory.
During the war, the IDF decided to take back the Hermon post and conquer the Syrian Hermon. The operation was lead by the Golani and Paratroopers Brigades. In an intense battle that lasted through the night, they liberated the Hermon post. Israel now controlled the entirety of the Syrian part of Mt. Hermon. Despite the high number of casualties, the operation was a success.
The brigade also participated in the 1976 Operation Entebbe, when Israeli special forces rescued over 100 civilians from a plane that was hijacked and taken to Entebbe, Uganda by German and Palestinian terrorists.
The Golani Infantry Brigade is lead today by Col. Ghassan Alian, a Druze Israeli, who is the first officer of Druze origin to command the brigade.
When the brigade is not engaged in battle, it is tasked primarily with counter-terrorism operations, and has dealt effectively with hundreds of threats. Much of that responsibility falls on the Golani Infantry Brigade Reconnaissance Battalion, who graduated their newest soldiers this week. Their mission will be to continue the proud tradition Golani soldiers have fulfilled since 1948: to fight valiantly for Israel.