During Hanukkah, we celebrate a miracle. A miraculous moment is one that takes your breath away! A moment that is so remarkable that it becomes part of our collective memory and has an impact on our lives. The IDF (Zahal)’s history is filled with such moments, and this holiday, we have gathered eight miraculous moments, told over eight days. Happy Hanukkah!
#MiraculousMoment1 : The Ink Flag
War of Independence, 1949
Towards the end of the War of Independence, IDF (Zahal) forces embarked on a mission and successfully captured the city of Eilat, Israel’s most southern point. When they realized that they did not have a flag at hand, the soldiers decided to improvise. A makeshift flag was created from a white sheet with two ink strips drawn on it, and a Star of David taken from a first-aid kit. This miraculous moment became an Israeli symbol of independence and bravery.
#MiraculousMoment 2: Returning to the Western Wall
Six Day War, 1967
On the third day of the Six Day War, the soldiers of the 55th Paratroopers Brigade arrived at the Western Wall after battling the Jordanian forces that had controlled the Old City of Jerusalem. This photograph was taken only 15 minutes after they reached the wall, documenting one of our nation’s most significant and miraculous moments – the return to the Western Wall.
#MiraculousMoment 3: The Floating Bridge on the Suez Canal
Yom Kippur War, 1973
When it was first proposed, the idea of transporting tanks across the Suez Canal on a floating bridge seemed impossible, but this miraculous idea proved to be genius. On October 17, 1973, a number of IDF (Zahal) Armored Brigades crossed the canal, and later on encircled the Egyptian Third Army. This is considered one of the greatest military achievements of the war and eventually led us to victory in the Sinai Peninsula.
#MiraculousMoment 4: Rescuing 103 Jewish Hostages from Entebbe
Operation Entebbe, 1976
On June 27, 1976, four terrorists hijacked an Air France plane that had taken off from Tel Aviv and was headed for Paris. The flight was diverted to Entebbe, Uganda, where Jewish and Israeli passengers were held hostage at the airport. After a week of preparations, IDF (Zahal) commando forces, pilots and medics embarked on one of our most ambitious rescue missions to date. They managed to surprise the terrorists and rescue 103 hostages. The return of the hostages to Israel to be embraced by their loved ones was a miraculous moment that Israelis will never forget.
#MiraculousMoment 5: Striking Iraq’s Nuclear Reactor
Operation Opera, 1981
On June 7, 1981, eight F-16 fighter planes and six F-15s took off on their way to Iraq to destroy the Osirak nuclear reactor in order to put a halt to the Iraqi nuclear program President Suddam Hussein used to openly threaten Israel. The mission was a huge success and proved to be truly miraculous ten years later during the Gulf War, when Iraq attacked Israel with rockets – none of which were nuclear.
#MiraculousMoment 6: Airlift of 14,500 Ethiopian Jews to Israel
Operation Solomon, 1991
Seven years after the success of Operation Moses, which brought the first wave of Ethiopian Jews to Israel, the IDF (Zahal) embarked on the largest areal expedition in Israel’s history. 14,500 Ethiopian Jews were airlifted to Israel within 36 hours, on board 34 Israeli Air Force flights. The bravery of the Ethiopian Jews, alongside the commitment of the IDF (Zahal)’s soldiers, made this operation truly miraculous.
#MiraculousMoment 7: Fighting Side by Side
Establishment of the Co-ed Caracal Battalion, 2004
Throughout IDF (Zahal) history, women have always taken part in protecting Israel and filled key positions. The revolutionary idea behind the Caracal Battalion was having men and women fight side by side. Soon to be in service for 10 years, the Caracal Battalion has had a crucial role in defending Israel’s southern border. The establishment of a co-ed combat battalion is a miraculous milestone on the way to true gender equality in Israel, and around the world.
# MiraculousMoment 8: Iron Dome’s First Interception
Interception of Grad Rocket Above Ashkelon, 2011
Every time the Iron Dome Missile Defense System intercepts a rocket and prevents it from striking a populated area, it is a truly miraculous moment. The first real-time Iron Dome interception occurred on April 7, 2011, when a Grad rocket fired from Gaza was intercepted before hitting Ashkelon. Since then, the Iron Dome has intercepted hundreds of rockets and saved countless lives.