Former commander of IDF’s top elite unit dies at 46

Former commander of IDF’s top elite unit dies at 46

Oded Raor, who headed Sayeret Matkal from 2004-7, remembered by Bennett and Ya'alon as a modest, caring professional

Yifa Yaakov is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Col. (res.) Oded Raor, who died in his sleep overnight Monday, August 18, 2014. (photo credit: Ben Avraham/Bamahane/File)
Col. (res.) Oded Raor, who died in his sleep overnight Monday, August 18, 2014. (photo credit: Ben Avraham/Bamahane/File)

A former commander of the IDF’s elite Sayeret Matkal (General Staff Reconnaissance Unit) passed away overnight Monday at the age of 46.

Col. (res.) Oded Raor, who retired two years ago, was laid to rest on Tuesday in Kibbutz Shefaim, in central Israel.

Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett paid tribute to Raor — under whom he trained for the unit when he began his IDF service in the 1990s — on his Facebook page Tuesday.

“Farewell, Oded Raor,” wrote Bennett, the economy minister.

“Under Oded’s command, we completed that exhausting and special course,” he wrote, describing his training under Raor. “He instilled in us, the young fighters, values of determination, persistence, courage, professionalism and creativity.”

Describing Raor as a man who espoused a philosophy of “zero compromises and zero concessions,” Bennett said he was also modest, dedicated, and caring toward his soldiers and the families of the fallen.

“Israel has lost a good commander and a good man,” wrote Bennett. “May his memory be blessed.”

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon — also a former commander of the unit — paid tribute to Raor, who served under him.

Ya’alon said he had crossed paths with Raor at different points of their military careers, and noted Raor had been appointed as commander of the unit when Ya’alon was the IDF’s chief of General Staff.

“Oded was a special individual, caring, very dedicated, hugely committed to people, to his friends and to his work. Modesty and humility were an inseparable part of his personality,” Ya’alon wrote on his Facebook page.

He said he had seen Raor often in recent months when they visited a mutual friend who was injured in an accident.

“Oded was there for him the whole way through, keeping company and helping, embracing and supporting. That was Oded and that was his noble way.”

Ya’alon went on to praise Raor’s military achievements, saying he had exhibited professionalism, motivation and creative thinking to a high degree, both as a combat soldier and as a commander.

He said these qualities contributed to the success of operations Raor had participated in — operations best not mentioned aloud, he said, that had a huge impact on Israel’s security.

Ya’alon also described Raor as a sensitive commander who was deeply pained “all his life” by the thought of the soldiers who had fallen under his command.

“I watched him closely during some of the unit’s operations, and I was always impressed by his equanimity and his ability to lead and command fighters in the most complex of missions,” Ya’alon wrote, extending his condolences to Raor’s family.

Raor, who was born in Nahariya, commanded Sayeret Matkal between 2004 and 2007, including during the Second Lebanon War in 2006, winning a slew of military honors. In 2007, Raor took command of a reserves unit until his retirement in 2012.

He then entered the private sector, working as a senior business developer with Bynet Systems Applications, an Israeli hi-tech firm.

read more: