Oved Natan, top bodyguard to Israeli leaders, dies at 72
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Oved Natan, top bodyguard to Israeli leaders, dies at 72

Prominent security official worked (literally) alongside Levi Eshkol, Golda Meir, Yitzhak Rabin

An undated photo of Oved Natan (L) with former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin (photo credit: GPO archives)
An undated photo of Oved Natan (L) with former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin (photo credit: GPO archives)

Oved Natan, personal bodyguard to several presidents and prime ministers in Israel, died Monday at the age of 72 after battling a severe heart condition.

Throughout his lengthy career, Natan worked to protect many of Israel’s leading figures, including Levi Eshkol, Golda Meir, and Yitzhak Rabin.

“He was one of the more prominent figures in the service,” Israel Shai, the former head of Israel’s top protection unit, said of Natan.

“He was a figure who soared during his life, and will not fade even years after he is gone,” Shai told the Ynet news site.

Natan was born in Jerusalem and spent his teenage years in the northern kibbutz of Tel Yosef. He began his service in the VIP protection unit in 1969.

On his first day on the job, Natan rushed then prime minister Eshkol to his car after the premier suffered a heart attack in his office, according to Ynet.

“Rabin attended my circumcision and Golda visited our home in Jerusalem,” Natan’s son Noam said. “It was a time when the security leadership was comprised of the prime minister and two or three more people, who were responsible for everything.”

Natan was the bodyguard for Rabin during his first term between 1974-1977, and was not present at the prime minister’s assassination in 1995. Still, his son said the murder was “for us, a stain that will never be removed.”

Natan was dedicated to his job, his family members said, and spent much time abroad on official trips. During a visit to London with Rabin, Natan was scolded by the manager at a royal guest house for resting upon a throne she claimed belonged to King Edward III.

“I am Oved the first,” Natan replied to the manager nonchalantly. “When Edward III returns, I’ll get up.”

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