For the past 67 years, generations of combat soldiers have proudly donned the brown beret of the Golani Brigade. These soldiers are eternally affiliated with this historic infantry brigade, and maintain their allegiance in order to guard a single tradition: the pride of being a fighter in Golani.
Recognized by their brown beret and their rectangular unit tags, the soldiers of the Golani Brigade have earned a reputation as elite fighters, both among their Israeli counterparts and their enemies. They have marked a number of successes on the battlefield, including combat in the War of Independence, the Yom Kippur War, Operation Entebbe, and the Second Lebanon War.
The Golani Brigade Commander, Col. Ghassan Alian, is deeply appreciated amongst his soldiers for his commanding abilities and lively personality. During Operation Protective Edge, he was wounded twice in exchanges of fire with Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip. After both injuries he returned to fight alongside his soldiers on the front lines.
The values of bravery and loyalty are Golani traditions, part of what unites the soldiers on the battlefield, and makes this unit a pseudo-family. These values have helped propel three Golani Commanders to the position of IDF (Zahal) Chief of Staff including the current Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot.
The Organization of the Golani Brigade
The Golani Brigade is made up of four battalions, three traditional battalions – the “HaBokim HaRishonim” Battalion, the “Barak” Battalion, and the “Gideon” Battalion – and a reconnaissance battalion.
The “HaBokim HaRishonim” Battalion, meaning “First Gaps” in Hebrew, is named after its success in Operation Yoav in 1948 in which the battalion was able to break open the Egyptian Army’s defenses in the besieged Negev Desert. The “Barak” Battalion has suffered the loss of four of its commanders in battle, including Lt. Col. Houssian Amir Ali Amar, the first commander of the all-Druze Reconnaissance Battalion. Known for his sense of justice and knowledge of warfare, the “Gideaon” Batttalion is named after Gideon, the biblical army general and judge who defended the people of Israel with great determination.
Lastly, the reconnaissance battalion does not have a special name, but those who wish to serve in this elite battalion must pass physically and mentally difficult evaluations in order to glean the most fit soldiers. The missions of this battalion remain secret.
The Right Stuff
The most famous “Golanchik” – a common nickname for soldiers serving in the Golani Brigade – is commander Roy Klein, who sacrificed his own life in order to save the lives of his soldiers.
During the Second Lebanon War, Klein and the soldiers under his command were fighting in the Lebanese village of Bint Jbeil, when they were ambushed by Hezbollah terrorists. While Klein was providing first aid to one of his soldiers who had been wounded, a grenade was thrown towards the group.
Without hesitation, Klein threw himself on top of the grenade in order to absorb the force of the explosion and spare the lives of his fellow soldiers. Klein suffered mortal wounds, but in his last act of valor he ordered his second in command to get ahold of the team’s radio, so that it wouldn’t fall into the hands of the enemy. Roy Klein was posthumously awarded the IDF (Zahal)’s Medal of Courage.
On February 22, 1948, in an effort to win the War of Independence, Israel’s leaders founded the Golani Brigade. After 67 years of dedicated service, this infantry brigade can claim success in all of Israel’s armed conflicts. Today, the Golani Brigade makes up just one of the many forces that defend the State of Israel.