Bennett honors 'the world's best soldier'

Naftali Bennett speaks about legendary soldier Emmanuel Moreno at a ceremony dedicating a street after him.

Tzvi Lev ,

Street named after Moreno
Street named after Moreno

Education Minister Naftali Bennett recalled the bravery and self-sacrifice of Lieutenant Colonel Emmanuel Moreno at the unveiling of a street named after the legendary special forces commander in Ashkelon.

Moreno led a top-secret special forces squad within the elite Sayeret Matkal special operations unit. Moreno's roles in the military were so sensitive that the IDF censor still forbids the media from publishing his photo, 12 years after he was killed during the Second Lebanon War.

Bennett spoke about his long friendship with Moreno which started when they served together in the Sayeret Matkal. "Emmanuel and I drafted on the same day and were together all throughout training," said Bennett. "We shared an apartment in Tel Aviv and we did our post-army excursion together. He was still in the army and we spoke a lot."

Bennett said that Moreno "would have loved" the location of the street commemorating him. "This is a simple place, with trees. It's very simple, not pretentious and it's in the south - not in North Tel Aviv," said Bennett.

"Emmanuel was like an engine you could never extinguish, " Bennett recounted. "He had made tremendous achievements due to his endless effort. He kept trying to get better. He was critical of himself, he always said 'I'm not good enough', and put in more effort and more effort. Not for himself- so he can give more to the State of Israel."

A French immigrant and a graduate of the Eli pre-military yeshiva, Moreno had drafted into the Sayeret Matkal in 1990 and rose through the ranks to become a Lieutenant Colonel. IDF Military Intelligence Commander Herzi Halevi once called him "the best soldier in the world", saying that "if the IDF is the best military in the world, and Sayeret Matkal is the best unit in the IDF, and Emmanuel is the best soldier in the unit, then Emmanuel is the best soldier in the world.”

Moreno was killed during the Second Lebanon War when his squad was ambushed by Hezbollah deep behind enemy lines. The unprecedented prohibition by the IDF censor for his photo to be published has caused curiosity about him to abound throughout Israel ever since.