Southern Command (Israel)

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The Israeli Southern Command (Hebrew: פיקוד דרום‎, transliterated: Pikud Darom), often abbreviated to Padam (פד"מ), is a regional command of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). It is responsible for the Negev, the Arava, and Eilat. It is currently headed by Aluf Herzl HaLevi.

History

For many years the Southern Command was tasked with defending the Negev and securing the border on the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt. The Southern Command led IDF troops in five wars against Egypt: the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, the Suez War, the Six-Day War, the War of Attrition, and the Yom Kippur War. This high operational activity and its demanding toll resulted in the Southern Command's Alufs (SCA) being replaced fairly rapidly. The most famous replacements took place in 1973, during the Yom Kippur War, when Shmuel Gonen was suspended as the SCA due to repeated disputes with Ariel Sharon, who was the previous SCA. The government appointed Chaim Bar-Lev, who was the former Chief of Staff, as the new SCA in an emergency directive. After the Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty, the southern front remained quiet and most of the activity centred on guarding the borders from smugglers and fluid security over the Gaza Strip.

During the Al-Aqsa Intifada, the Command was placed in charge-of counter-terrorist efforts. The Gaza Strip, one of the most densely populated places in the world, was known as a stronghold for extremist groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad, who engaged in Palestinian political violence. The local production and proliferation of light anti-tank weapons by these groups, made travel by lightly armored vehicles dangerous. From 2004, the fighting in Gaza became especially intensive, and on the IDF's part, included targeted killings, short armored expeditions, and efforts to locate and destroy the smuggling tunnels used by Palestinian militant groups to obtain weapons.

During 2005, the Southern Command was involved in the unilateral Gaza disengagement plan, initiated by Ariel Sharon (Prime Minister of Israel, 2001–2006), which mainly entailed the removals of all Israeli settlements from the Gaza Strip and back to the Israeli side of the Green Line. The Command re-situated itself north of the Gaza fence, while the Philadelphi Route was given to Egypt, who did not however prevent the movement of thousands of Palestinians between the Gaza Strip and the Sinai through the city of Rafah. As of 2006, the attempt to infiltrate Israel to perform suicide bombings and the launch of Qassam rockets, especially by Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees, remains ongoing and is the central focus of the Southern Command.

Units

Structure Southern Command

Commanders

Name Dates Image Notes
Yigal Allon 1948–1949 Yigal Allon.jpg
Yitzhak Rabin 1949 Rabin Northern Command1957.jpg Acting commander
Moshe Dayan October 1949 – October 1951
Moshe Tzadok October 1951 – January 1954
Ya'akov Peri 1954 Acting commander
Zvi Gilat 1955
Meir Amit November 1955 – August 1956 Meir Amit.jpg
Asaf Simhoni August–November 1956 Acting commander in Operation Kadesh
Haim Laskov November 1956 – January 1958 Chaim Laskov.jpg
Chaim Herzog January–July 1958 Chaim herzog.jpeg
Avraham Yoffe July 1958 – May 1962 Avraham Yoffe1960.jpg
Zvi Zamir May 1962 – December 1965
Yeshayahu Gavish December 1965 – December 1969 Gavish 1967.jpg
Ariel Sharon December 1969 – July 1973 Ci-Club12.jpg
Shmuel Gonen July–November 1973
Haim Bar-Lev October 1973 Haim Bar-Lev.jpg As former Chief of Staff, assumed command during the Yom Kippur War
Israel Tal November 1973 – January 1973 GeneralIsraelTal 1970 forWikipedia.jpg
Avraham Adan January–July 1974 Flickr - Government Press Office (GPO) - ALUF AVRAHAM ADAN.jpg
Yekutiel Adam July 1974 – March 1976
Herzl Shafir March 1976 – February 1978
Dan Shomron February 1978 – January 1982
Haim Erez January 1982 – October 1983
Moshe Bar-Kokhva October 1983 – February 1986
Uri Sagi February–August 1986
Yitzhak Mordechai August 1986 – 1989
Matan Vilna'i 1989 – November 1994
Shaul Mofaz November 1994 – 1996
Shlomo Yanai 1996 – September 1997
Yom-Tov Samia September 1997 – 2000
Doron Almog 2000 – July 2003
Dan Harel July 2003 – October 2005 Dan Harel.jpg
Yoav Galant October 2005 – October 2010 Flickr - Israel Defense Forces - Celebration of Rosh ha'Shana in the Southern Command (1).jpg
Tal Russo October 2010 – April 2013
Sami Turgeman April 2013 – October 2015 Major General Avi Mizrahi, General Gabi Ashkenazi, and Major General Sami Turgeman (6 September 2009) (Turgeman cropped).jpg
Eyal Zamir October 14, 2015 – June 6, 2018
Herzl HaLevi June 6, 2018 – Herzi Halevi. Herzliya Conference 2016 2016 (cropped).jpg

References

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