Outgoing Samaria Commander: I Failed in Itamar

Col. Nimrod Aloni blames himself for Fogel massacre. He is replaced by twice-wounded Col. Yoav Yarom.

Gil Ronen ,

Col. Aloni (left), Col. Yarom
Col. Aloni (left), Col. Yarom
Florit Shoichet, IDF Website

Col. Yoav Yarom officially replaced Col. Nimrod Aloni Thursday as the commander of the Samaria Regional Brigade. The switch in command was formalized in a ceremony at the Horon Base, in the presence of Central Command Head Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon.

Col. Aloni will go to the United States for a period of academic studies.

Aloni spoke at the ceremony about his experiences as Brigade Commander, including joyous occasions like a wedding at the Tomb of Joseph, but also tragedies, the most terrible of which was the massacre of the Fogel family at Itamar. "I failed at Itamar," he said poignantly, "and in my failure, the members of the Fogel family were murdered cruelly. There are no words to describe the sadness and frustration I felt on that Friday night."

"We initiated an operation that had no precedent after such a terror attack. We decided to leave no stone unturned in the village of Awarta [from which the murderers came – ed.]. I saw in the soldiers' eyes that they do not require motivational speeches."

Col. Yarom began his career as an officer in the elite Sayeret Golani. During an operation in Lebanon, he stepped on a landmine that caused him to lose his foot. Amazingly, he managed to go back to serving in the Sayeret. Legend has it that the Sayeret's commander initially refused to allow him back into the unit, but Yarom challenged him to a foot race. When he defeated the commander, the latter had no choice but to let him back in.

In the great terror onslaught known as the Oslo War or the Second Intifada, he was wounded in the stomach from gunfire. He recovered and again returned to active combat service in Golani, serving as deputy commander of the elite Egoz unit and as commander of the Reconnaissance Battalion (Gadsar).