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Israel-Hamas war: How a legendary IDF commando was killed on October 7

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Israel-Hamas war: How a legendary IDF commando was killed on October 7



“We knew he went out on missions, of the type that the Shaldag [Unit] carries out, to bring intelligence from all kinds of places, but he didn’t talk about it and we didn’t know a great deal more than that,” Zeevik Rosenthal tells me as we sit on the sofa at his family’s well-appointed house in Mevaseret Zion. “Only after his death, we saw all sorts of medals and awards describing how he was in countless operations, and 550 people came to the funeral, mostly from the unit, all with similar stories… and suddenly you receive the full picture of who your son was.”

Zeevik’s son, Chief Warrant Officer Ido Rosenthal, was a legendary fighter of the Shaldag (Kingfisher) commando unit, one of the IDF’s most senior and classified units. He was killed on October 7 in the first hours of the Hamas rampage through the Gaza border communities.

Apparently on his own initiative, Ido left his home in Moshav Ben-Shemen and made his way to the Shaldag base. From there, together with a few comrades, he headed south. In the first chaotic hours following Hamas’s destruction of the border fence, with the official defense structures hardly functioning and the civilian communities largely without defense, he and his colleagues hurled themselves at the enemy. They were heavily outnumbered. They did not hesitate. The cost was high.

So I am at Zeevik’s house to try to piece together the events of that day and to explore a single one of the accounts by which, on October 7, official structures of Israel descended into chaos and dysfunction for a period of several deadly hours, and nonetheless individuals and small groups of Israelis stepped into the resultant void. And I want also to take a closer look at one of those individuals, not necessarily in order to generalize from the particular to the communal.

We were joined at the house in Mevaseret by Ido’s sister, Noa Ziv. The portrait of Ido that emerges, as we sift through the photos and documents that Zeevik places on the table in front of us, is of a singular and very far from ordinary man.

IN SHALDAG, age about 30. (credit: Rosenthal family)

Ido Rosenthal in the IDF

A regular soldier, Ido Rosenthal spent the greater part of his adult working life as a fighter of the Shaldag Unit. So we should begin by understanding a little about this unique and most discreet of Israeli military formations.

Nothing much exists officially with regard to it. Its veterans, like Ido, don’t tend to go into detail. Nevertheless, a fair amount of general information can be gathered.

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Formed in 1974 by colonel Muki Betser, the unit was initially intended to specialize in forward air control. Today it has moved far beyond that function. Now it specializes in long-range penetration deep inside hostile territory, special operations, and reconnaissance inside enemy areas, often related to intelligence-gathering tasks. From its beginnings as a reserve company of the General Staff Reconnaissance Unit, it is now operated from within the Israeli Air Force.

“Shaldag’s mission as forward air controllers is only their rather outdated and official task,” a former Military Intelligence officer of my acquaintance tells me. “They are an integral part of every war and major operation.”

As to the precise nature of the actions in which Ido took part, it’s not possible to say. But among the very long list of operations that are associated with this small unit during the period of his service, according to unofficial sources, are Operation Orchard, the mission to destroy the Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007; and Operation Sharp and Smooth, a successful raid on Baalbek in southern Lebanon during the 2006 Second Lebanon War. In the former operation, according to the Sunday Times, Shaldag fighters, operating on the ground in Syria, carried out their classic role of identifying targets for aircraft, and infiltrating and marking a depot adjoining the plutonium reactor under construction at al-Kibar.

Shaldag is one of the very top tier of Israel’s special forces units. It shares this distinction with the General Staff Reconnaissance Unit; Shayetet 13, the naval commandos; and Unit 669, the airborne rescue unit. This is the environment in which Ido spent his working life, with breaks to study visual communications at Hadassah Academic College in Jerusalem, and to travel. And to raise three children with his partner, Noga, in Ben-Shemen.

Ido Rosenthal, the man

Ido loved nature, hiking, and hard traveling. “He went once from Mongolia to China on a motorcycle, all the way across China and to Thailand – 3,500 km. on a motorbike,” Zeevik tells me.

Ido was of Hungarian and Iraqi Jewish origin, and grew up in Jerusalem. As a young man in his early 20s, already four or five years into service in Shaldag, he sometimes used to come out to the city’s music bars, to have a beer and meet with friends. I was a part of that scene, too, about 20 years ago, and he and I had a number of mutual friends. I even remember him from those days, as I told Zeevik and Noa.

What I chiefly remember about him (which I didn’t tell them) was a sort of contrast.

On the one hand, I remember that Ido had an unmistakable physical presence. That is, he was very obviously an unusually tough man, with an easy fluency about his movements suggesting supreme physical fitness.

On the other hand, there was absolutely nothing assumed or pretentious about any of this. He did not refer to his military service, had no interest in conveying any image, still less any aura of mystery, and he liked talking to people about all the things people who gathered in those places liked to talk about – music, beer, sometimes history and politics, as I remember. No arrogance or nonsense about him.

I only spoke to him a couple of times and don’t claim to have known him or to have been his friend. Ido’s cousin, however, Ziv Adika, with whom he was very close, is a good friend of mine from those days. Ziv played the bass in a Jerusalem punk band that was well known around those times. Ido used to go to their concerts when he was home on leave.

“I gave him a poster of Crass [a well-known British anarchist punk band from the 1980s] once,” Ziv tells me as we sit in his apartment in central Jerusalem. “You remember that one, with the dead guy’s hand and the message ‘Your country needs you’? Ido stuck it up at the Shaldag HQ, but they made him take it down.” We laugh. “But they loved him there, you know? And because he was so good at what he did, like 100% and a lot more, they let him get away with those things.

“He never had fear. Of Anything. As kids in Ramot and the German Colony we used to jump off roofs, over fences, and he was just without fear. There are people like that, right?”

So it would seem. The following is an account of Ido’s activities on the morning of October 7 as related to me by his father and sister, who in turn base it on many conversations with comrades from Ido’s unit.

October 7

On that morning, at just after 8 a.m., having become aware of the events in the South, Ido left his home in Ben-Shemen. He made his way to the Shaldag base, somewhere in central Israel. At the base, the unit maintains a number of helicopters fully equipped for emergency response. Other fighters had already begun to gather there. Ido was assigned to a four-man team, led by the Shaldag deputy commander. He was the No. 2 in this hastily assembled group. They boarded the helicopter after equipping themselves for action and receiving weapons. They took off around 9:30 a.m.  The helicopter landed at Kfar Maimon.

Shaldag’s helicopters are loaded with small, rough-terrain vehicles which the unit uses to travel across hostile territory on its deep penetration missions. The four fighters boarded one of these and began to head in the direction of Kibbutz Be’eri. Hamas had already entered the kibbutz and were in the midst of slaughtering its inhabitants.

On the road, the Shaldag men came across a lone Hamas terrorist. They killed him in the short exchange of fire that followed.

Arriving at an IDF position, they were told by the officer commanding there that they could go no further. “Ahead of here there’s areas containing and controlled by terrorists,” he told them.

“That’s what we came for,” the commander of the Shaldag force replied, and they continued on their way.

Somewhere in the course of all this, they had picked up another two reserve fighters, so the team now numbered six.

Arriving close to Be’eri, the team identified a large group of around 30 Hamas terrorists making their way across the open ground from Be’eri in the direction of Kibbutz Alumim. The Shaldag men decided to engage. Exiting the vehicle, they left two fighters next to it as a rescue force if needed. Four, including Ido, went forward, advancing as an infantry section across the open ground.

At the appropriate distance, the four charged the group of 30, opening fire. Around 10 of the terrorists were killed in this first attack, with the remainder taking shelter behind some sand dunes in the open ground. A firefight ensued. One of the terrorists managed to get to the side of the Israeli force and opened fire. The first of the Shaldag men was wounded. A round went through his hand, penetrated his ceramic vest and then remained between the vest and his chest. The soldier, seeing the blood spreading from his hand, assumed he was dying. Ido reached him, assessed the situation, and said that he would be okay, telling him to crawl back in the direction of the vehicle.

Making his way back to the vehicle, around a minute later the wounded soldier heard a long burst of automatic fire. This, it appears, was the burst that killed Ido, a bullet entering his neck, and wounded the commander of the team, the deputy commander of Shaldag. The two remaining members of the force pulled back, with Ido’s body.

The commander noted that the 20 or so remaining terrorists remained hidden behind the dunes, evidently looking to continue the firefight. He managed to radio back and called for a helicopter gunship, which arrived after a few minutes, wiping out the remaining Hamas men.

“And that’s it, that’s the story,” Zeevik tells me in Mevaseret Zion. “So, because of their action, they saved Kibbutz Alumim. The group [of terrorists] that was supposed to go to Alumim didn’t get there. Ten killed by Ido’s group, and the remainder by the helicopter crew. And as a result, the community was saved.”

His family speaks

We talked a while longer. More anecdotes, more memories. For example, the time that Ido, most unusually, had asked his mother to iron his class A uniform. “There’s some ceremonial army event,” he had remarked when asked the reason. And only years after, they discovered by chance that he had needed the uniform to receive the Israel Security Prize, a major citation, from then-defense minister Avigdor Liberman.

And the family gathering they had on Friday, October 6, when Zeevik and his brother-in-law, both combat veterans, had reminisced and argued about the positions along the Suez Canal prior to the 1973 war, and Ido had gathered all the family’s kids for a game of soccer as he liked to do.

“I accept all of it, and I don’t have any complaints about the specific situation that Ido came to,” Zeevik tells me, by way of parting. “He was a fighter… Ido went to save civilians. That was his profession, and he loved what he did.”

And his cousin Adika said something similar. “I used to say to him, ‘Enough already. You’ve done your part.’ But he died as he would have wanted to have died, in battle, not, I dunno, aged 70, of cancer, you know?” And then, by way of conclusion: “They didn’t bury him on Mount Herzl. Noga didn’t want that. He’s buried in a place next to Ben-Shemen. In a place of trees and nature, like he loved.”

Piecing it together

I have seen some camera footage of the Shaldag men operating around Kibbutz Be’eri. One should not imagine them as a hastily assembled, improvised force. They came in from their base in helicopters, properly equipped. They look like what they were: highly trained special forces operators moving with speed and effect.

Nevertheless, it remains the case that for many hours on October 7, the security structures of the State of Israel largely disappeared, effectively ceased to function. Ido Rosenthal was one of the small group of fighters, men and women, who stepped into the breach and chose to bear the burden and the heat of the day.

Even after they arrived at Kfar Maimon, the Shaldag men could have chosen to wait at the first position they reached for orders from somewhere or other above. Even after they continued forward, they could have assessed that the 30-strong force ahead was too numerous to engage and waited for assistance. They didn’t. They chose to go forward. Five hundred and thirty people – men, women, and children at Kibbutz Alumim – were saved. But Ido Rosenthal was killed.

May his memory be a blessing. 

The Jerusalem Post and OneFamily are working together to help support the victims of the Hamas massacre and the soldiers of Israel who have been drafted to ensure that it never happens again.

Become a partner in this project by donating to OneFamily>>





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Israel’s High Court rejects petition of east Jerusalem family facing eviction

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Israel’s High Court rejects petition of east Jerusalem family facing eviction



Israel’s High Court of Justice rejected on Sunday a petition by an east Jerusalem family seeking to challenge a previous court decision – which ruled that the family must vacate their home in Silwan in favor of Jewish residents,  the Israeli NGO Peace Now reported. 

The Shhadeh family, from Batan al-Hawa in Silwan, challenged Judge Noam Solberg’s ruling, which rejected their appeal request. However, the Shhadeh family claimed that the court did not seek their response to the Jewish buyers’ applications in the case, leading to a flaw in the court’s decision-making process. Their voices were not heard before the decision – contrary to procedural rules. 

However, on Sunday, the High Court rejected the petition. 

Peace Now, an Israeli NGO working to promote a two-state solution, made a statement on the ruling, saying, “This is a political move, under the guise of legal proceedings, for the forcible displacement of a Palestinian community and its replacement by settlers in the heart of a Palestinian neighborhood in east Jerusalem.” 

Palestinian children stand outside an apartment in the Silwan district of East Jerusalem in Jerusalem, May 15, 2024. (credit: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

“The responsibility to prevent the injustice lies with the government,” Peace Now added. “It must determine that if settlers have rights to properties from before 1948, they should be compensated for them, not to have the right to evict families who lawfully purchased the property and lived there for decades.”

Currently, all legal paths have reportedly been exhausted, and the family will need to evict its four-floor home by June 1. If they do not leave willingly, the Jewish buyers can file a procedure that would see police forcefully evict residents. 

Background on the case

In November 2022, the District Court rejected the Shhadeh family’s appeal and ruled that they must vacate their home. The family then filed a request to appeal to Israel’s High Court. Solberg, the judge who received the case, decided in 2023 to wait for the position of the Attorney General in a similar eviction case.

In the months that passed, while waiting for the Attorney General’s decision, the Jewish buyers’ lawyer submitted six requests to the court to expedite the decision and rule on the case. 

Following their sixth request in April 2024, Judge Solberg decided not to wait for the Attorney General’s decision and determined that the family must vacate their home. The family submitted a motion for reconsideration, which was also rejected by the judge. Last week, the family filed a petition to the High Court against the decision, which was rejected on Sunday. 

Ateret Cohanim, a right-wing group, was involved in the case and has filed numerous eviction lawsuits against some 84 Palestinian families in Silwan, Peace Now stated. Since 2015, 14 families have been evicted from Batan al-Hawa. 





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FM Katz severs connection between Spain’s representation in Israel and Palestinians

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FM Katz severs connection between Spain’s representation in Israel and Palestinians



Israel will bar the Spanish Consulate in Jerusalem from servicing West Bank Palestinians to protest Madrid’s decision this week to unilaterally recognize Palestinian statehood.

“I have decided to sever the connection between Spain’s representation in Israel and the Palestinians,” FM Israel Katz wrote in a post on X on Friday.

Spain has an embassy in Tel Aviv that services Israelis and a consulate located in east Jerusalem that acts as a de facto embassy to the Palestinian Authority.

Most countries similarly split their missions, with an embassy in the Tel Aviv area that services sovereign Israel and a second mission located either in east Jerusalem or Ramallah for West Bank Palestinians.

Flags of Spain, Norway and Ireland seen as Mahmoud Abbas speaks at the United Nations (illustrative) (credit: REUTERS, WIKIPEDIA COMMONS)

Decision came after recognition of Palestinian statehood

Katz wrote Friday that he would “prohibit the Spanish consulate in Jerusalem from providing services to Palestinians from the West Bank.”

He ordered the measure two days after Spain, Ireland and Norway announced they would unilaterally recognize Palestine as a state, a measure that officially goes into effect on May 28.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry immediately recalled its envoys from those three countries and severely reprimanded the ambassadors of those three countries at a meeting in Jerusalem.

Israel also plans to take additional measures against those three countries. Katz focused in particular on Spain because the country’s Deputy Prime Minister Yolanda Diaz used the phrase “from the River to the Sea Palestine will be free” in a video message this week.

The slogan which calls for the borders of a Palestinian state to stretch from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, is seen as a call for the elimination of the state of Israel, which is located din that territory.

Katz wrote, “If this ignorant, hate-filled individual wants to understand what radical Islam truly seeks, she should study the 700 years of Islamic rule in Al-Andalus—today’s Spain.”





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Ireland & Palestine – A brief history

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Ireland & Palestine – A brief history



Ireland is set to announce the recognition of a Palestinian state on Wednesday, following a similar move made hours earlier by Norway. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez also plans to announce Spain’s recognition of an independent Palestinian state on the same day.

“Today, Ireland, Norway, and Spain are announcing that we recognize the state of Palestine,” said Irish Prime Minister Simon Harris at a press conference. “Each of us will now undertake the necessary national steps to give effect to that decision. I’m confident that further countries will join us in taking this important step in the coming weeks.”

Ireland and Palestine have maintained official relations since 2000, with Ireland establishing a representative office in Ramallah and Palestine maintaining one in Dublin. Both nations are members of the Union for the Mediterranean.

However, the relationship between Ireland and Palestine dates back much further. The Irish nationalist movement has long viewed the Palestinian cause through a similar lens of seeking to overthrow what they see as oppressive colonizers and achieve independent statehood, particularly aligning the Irish Republican Army (IRA) with the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO.)

By the late 1960s, Ireland grew increasingly concerned about Palestinians displaced by the Six-Day War. In 1969, Irish Foreign Minister Frank Aiken highlighted this issue as a top priority in Ireland’s Middle East policy. Since then, Ireland has supported UN resolutions calling for Israel’s complete withdrawal from the territories captured during the war.

Flags of Palestine and Ireland flutter next to each other over the International Wall in support of Gaza, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, March 29, 2024 (credit: Clodagh Kilcoyn/Reuters)

‘IRA-PLO one struggle’

The connection between the Northern Ireland-based IRA and the PLO was most evident in the 1970s and early 1980s, often depicted in murals in nationalist areas. A notable example in Belfast showed armed IRA and PLO members with the slogan “IRA-PLO one struggle.” Sinn Féin linked its political strategy with movements like the ANC and PLO to provide a broader political context for its efforts. This alignment was regularly featured in the Sinn Féin newspaper An Phoblacht and grew stronger under Adams’ leadership in the 1980s.

In 1980, Ireland became the first EU member state to support the establishment of a Palestinian state. In 1999, then-Taoiseach Bertie Ahern visited Gaza, meeting PLO chief Yasser Arafat and touring the Jabaliya refugee camp, becoming the first national leader to fly directly from Palestine to their home country. In 2001, Foreign Affairs Minister Brian Cowen also visited Gaza to meet Arafat.

Despite significant support for Palestine within Ireland, the government has yet to implement the 2014 decision to formalize diplomatic relations, preferring a coordinated EU approach. However, in April 2024, Foreign Minister Micheál Martin announced plans to recognize a Palestinian state within weeks.

Former Irish PM Leo Varadkar acknowledged differing views between the US and Ireland regarding the Israel-Hamas conflict, particularly concerning Israeli actions in Gaza.

In 2009, Northern Ireland’s Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams’ meeting with Hamas highlighted the longstanding ties between Irish Republicanism and Middle Eastern groups. This relationship began in the early 1970s with Libya’s support for the IRA. The IRA’s connections extended to Hezbollah, influencing tactics used in both Lebanon and Northern Ireland. The most enduring relationship was with the PLO, which trained IRA operatives.

Since the official end of the IRA’s armed campaign in 2005, mainstream Republican support for Palestine has been political. While Sinn Féin remains critical of Israel, accusing it of human rights violations, leaders like Gerry Adams publicly adopt a more moderate tone. Sinn Féin calls for EU sanctions against Israel and supports the Palestinian cause through various platforms.

Irish Republicanism’s anti-Israel stance has sometimes been accused of antisemitism. Historically, figures like Arthur Griffith and elements within the IRA expressed antisemitic views. Although overt antisemitism has decreased since the late 1960s, anti-Israel rhetoric sometimes crosses the line, reflecting an underlying historical bias.

Graffiti and murals in Republican areas during the second intifada often glorified Palestinian terrorism, and some Republicans suggested arming Palestinians with decommissioned IRA weapons. While modern Irish Republicanism may not be inherently antisemitic, its century-old undercurrent persists, influencing its stance on Israel and the Jewish people.

In January 2011, Ireland granted diplomatic status to the Palestinian delegation in Dublin. Later that year, Ireland’s Foreign Affairs Minister indicated that the country might lead efforts to recognize Palestinian statehood, contingent on the Palestinian Authority gaining full control over its territories. In 2014, both houses of the Irish Parliament passed motions urging the Government to recognize the State of Palestine.

Today, this has finally come to fruition. 





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