Israel Tal was a moral, intelligent military leader, one admired both in Israel and abroad, President Shimon Peres said on Sunday at the funeral of the former Israel Defense Forces top commander and military theorist
Hundreds, including heads of state and top military officials, attended the funeral of Major General Israel Tal (res.) in Rehovot, who passed away on Wednesday after suffering from a prolonged illness.
Eulogizing Tal, Peres said that the former military theorist was a "soldier's soldier, and a commander's commander, who knew to discipline himself and was endowed with a natural sense of authority."
"He didn’t condescend, he didn't give up, he never discounted anything, nor was he astounded. To the forces in the field, he was the perpetual teacher, to leaders, a responsible partner," Peres said.
The president also testified to Tal's insatiable curiosity, studying "philosophy, history, science, and, of course, military theory," saying Tal had a thirst for knowledge, the patience to train, and the swiftness of thought required for decisions."
"He is considered one of the top five Armored Corps commanders in the world, and was the only one among them who could build a tank," Peres said, referring to the fact that Tal was considered the '"father" of Israel's main battle tank, the Merkava.
"Talik was like a brother and a comrade to me, and while one may say goodbye to a comrade, one cannot part with camaraderie itself. It continues to breathe and walk among us, allowing us to bask in its glory," Peres said.
Also speaking at the funeral, IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi said that he came to thank Tal, "one of those who fashioned the IDF's spirit and an architect of its strength, who for over six decades stood at the helm of the State of Israel."
"The Merkava talk which was your life's work, built of no less than 1,250,000 separate parts, can teach much of your image and of the kind of man you were. Of forces, ideas, inner strength and the iron discipline which set you apart. Of the firmness which was supported by a great love for your fighters, for the people who worked beside you," the IDF chief said.
"It is this combination of qualities," Ashkenazi said, "which fashioned you into a man of vision who could tear mountains…. A man considered as one of modern history's great tank warriors, and into Israel's 'Mr. Armored Corps."
Referring to his personal experience of the former top IDF commander, the IDF chief spoke of Tal's persona, "an inseparable part of the professional and moral infrastructure on which I was raised."
"I had the chance to meet Talik the man as I entered my position as Defense Ministry director," the IDF chief said, adding that his meetings with Tal were "a unique lesson not only in a military or national worldview, or in the value of strategic analysis, but in the strength of a single warrior, of an army, of society as a whole."
Tal, who was a week shy of his 86th birthday, left a wife, daughter, son, and grandchildren.
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