Avraham “Emmy” Palant, a retired Brigadier general and politician who was decorated for valor after commanding a tank company in one of the decisive battles of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, passed away on Monday. He was 71.
Born in Moshav Magshimim in 1951, Palant enlisted in the Israel Defense Forces in 1969 and within four years was a tank platoon commander in the 7th armored brigade’s 77th battalion. During the Yom Kippur War the battalion was overwhelmingly outnumbered by a Syrian force of 1,200 tanks and tens of thousands of men surging through the Golan Heights, but managed to push them back, turning the tide of the war.
For his part in the fighting at what came to be known in Israel as the “Valley of Tears,” Palant was awarded the Medal of Valor, the IDF’s highest decoration, and in subsequent years he continued to climb the army’s ranks, commanding the first unit to receive Israel’s domestically developed Merkava tanks, the commander of the 7th brigade and head of the armored corps.
After retiring in 1995, he joined former battalion commander Brigadier General Avigdor Kahalani in the newly established Third Way party, serving under him again as the Director General of the Ministry of Internal Security for several years in the latter half of the 1990s.
“Emmy and I and I lived together as two brothers who built a brotherhood of warriors and a friendship stronger than steel. He fought like a lion in the Baka Valley and was one of the best commanders and leaders that the State of Israel could wish for,” journalist Arik Bender quoted Kahalani as saying in a tweet.
“I was with him in his last days. He separated from me like the man among men. We all have tears in our hearts and souls.”
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Defense Minister Benny Gantz also mourned Kahalani, stating that he would be “remembered as the one who stopped the Syrian tanks under Avigdor Kahalani in the Yom Kippur War.”
“At every stage of life where we met Emmy taught me a lesson,” the former IDF chief of staff tweeted. “Whether it was in the courses where he guided me, and then when I met him in civilian life, he was an initiator and trailblazer in the business and public world. Emmy was a brave, talented and versatile person. His memory will accompany me and the IDF's combat legacy. May his memory be blessed.”
The story of the IDF’s near defeat and ultimate victory in the “Valley of Tears” was turned into a nine-part series which aired on HBO Max in the United States and Kan 11 in Israel in 2020.