In January 1997,
Jonathan Zirkel was a newly appointed lieutenant in the Israeli
army. He made it his business to know all the men in his unit. Off
duty they had their own T-shirts… Zirkel’s unit.
Morale was strong
despite regular attacks from Lebanon and difficult missions to chase
down the sources of missiles launched on Northern Israeli
Only the previous
week Zirkel had been a coffin bearer at the funeral of a friend
killed in such a raid.
Now he was
leading a patrol in Lebanon and out of nowhere they were ambushed.
There was shooting, grenades exploded and Zirkel plus several others
were wounded. The raiders disappeared.
When the medic
arrived Zirkel immediately sent him off to see other colleagues who
were also wounded. “They are hurt worse than me,” he said “and
they need your help first.”
hours Zirkel died of his injuries on the cold mountainside. Most of
his colleagues survived, but two others also died.
His unit came to
bury him on the kibbutz where he grew up, and they lamented a leader
lost in his prime.
exemplifies leadership in a way I shall never forget.
was my cousin.