Gold Medal for Jewish Brigade
Gold Medal for Jewish BrigadeIDF Spokesperson

A ceremony took place at the “Battalion’s Museum” in Moshav Avichayil Wednesday to award the Jewish Brigade a Gold Medal by the Republic of Italy.

The ceremony was headed by the Commander of the IDF Ground Forces, Maj. Gen. Kobi Barak and included the presence of the Jewish Brigade’s veterans and relatives, the President of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities (UCEI), Ms. Noemi Di Segni, as well as representatives of the Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Jewish Brigade was a Brigade in the British Army which was mostly comprised of volunteers from the Jewish communities prior to the establishment of the State of Israel. The volunteers enlisted to the British Army during WWII and participated in the war against Nazi Germany.

The 7th Brigade's first commander, (Ret.) Maj. Gen. Shlomo Shamir served in the Jewish Brigade of the British Army. Many of the fighters of the Jewish Brigade later joined the 7th Brigade.

During the ceremony, the Ambassador of Italy to Israel, Mr. Gianluigi Benedetti, awarded the illustrious formation the Gold Medal of Military Valor, the highest military decoration of the Italian Republic. This is a symbol of the great appreciation the Italian people hold towards the Jewish Brigade and their contribution to the Republic of Italy.

Italian Ambassador to Israel, H.E, Mr. Gianluigi Benedetti, stated: “Their example is a source of pride and inspiration. Young people, who leaving their home behind, came to fight in our country. Some of them are with us this morning. Let me tell them todá rabá (thank you very much).” The Italian President, Sergio Mattarella, signed the law awarding this decoration, unanimously approved by the Parliament reminded us, that we should be extremely grateful to the Jewish Brigade, because they died for our freedom. After WWII, these soldiers also contributed to the future of sovereign Israel. In fact, their participation in the war played a significant part in the training of what would have later become the IDF. Many of the soldiers who had served in the Jewish Brigade, whose official colors were later adopted by the 7th Armored Brigade, went on to fight in Israel’s 1948 War of Independence."

Commander of the Armored Corps, Brig. Gen. Guy Hasson, said: "Today, with a great honor, we accept the Gold Medal of Military Valor on behalf of the Jewish Brigade. We would like to thank the Italian government, the Jewish community in Italy, the Israeli embassy and the Military Attaché in Italy for all the efforts invested in recent years in recognizing the “Jewish Brigade” with this award.

"Today, the 7th armored Brigade, which represents the IDF and the Ground Forces, accepts the Gold Medal of Military Valor, the highest honor in Italy, in the memory of the Jewish Brigade fighters. This official ceremony represents the depth of the two countries' relationship as well as the one of the IDF and the Italian Armed Forces. The courage, determination, and the sense of responsibility and mission are the values that enable the 7th armored Brigade to protect the citizens of Israel."

Commander of the 7th Brigade, Colonel Roman Gofman, said during the ceremony: "This year, with great pride, we celebrate 70 years since the establishment of the State of Israel, the IDF and the 7th Brigade. The Brigade was established during the battles of Latrun and its soldiers were mostly newcomers to Israel, Holocaust survivors and former soldiers of the Jewish Brigade. As they fought over the path to Jersualem, the brigade's soldiers, commanded by Ret. Maj. Gen. Shlomo Zamir, stormed through Burma Road and saved Jerusalem. Their determination and bravery shaped the spirit of the 7th Brigade. We, the soldiers of today, stand here in this honorable ceremony, to accept this medal on behalf of the Jewish Brigade, and we say as proudly as we've said before - there is no power in the world that can threaten the independence and prosperity of the State of Israel."