Doron Rubin, leader of daring missions behind enemy lines, dies at 74

Doron Rubin, leader of daring missions behind enemy lines, dies at 74

Retired general commanded forces in four of Israel's wars; he leaves behind a wife and four children

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Maj. Gen. (res.) Doron Rubin, who died on January 19, 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)
Maj. Gen. (res.) Doron Rubin, who died on January 19, 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)

Former IDF general Doron Rubin, who led soldiers into battle in four wars and countless military operations, died on Friday after an extended illness at the age of 74.

Rubin, who began his military career in the Paratroopers Brigade in 1963, served as a company commander in the 1967 Six Day War.

During the War of Attrition that followed, Rubin took part in the daring Operation Rooster 53, in which a team of commandoes from the Paratroopers Brigade flew behind enemy lines into Egypt and, using heavy transport helicopters, stole a state-of-the-art Soviet radar installation.

In the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Rubin led the Paratroopers’ 202nd Battalion, including during the famed Battle of Wadi Mabouk, in which a relatively small number of Israeli infantry and armor units fought off a surprise attack by a much larger Egyptian force.

He led the army’s 500th Brigade, a reserve tank unit, in the 1982 First Lebanon War, just three days after he was named its commander.

In the fighting, he entered a village that was held by a Syrian commando unit, searching for a group of officers that had gone inside earlier and been killed. He became separated from the other two soldiers who had gone into the town with him, so Rubin fought the Syrian soldiers in the village alone, killing many of them. He was eventually rescued by a group of paratroopers and brought back the bodies of the officers for burial.

Following the war, he turned to developing the army’s fighting techniques and was promoted to major general in 1985 to lead the General Staff’s doctrine department.

In 1987, Rubin took command of the army’s secretive Depth Corps, which operates behind enemy lines. (The unit was later scaled back and changed, but it re-formed in 2011.)

The major general was pushed out of the military in 1991 by then-IDF chief Ehud Barak, following a botched mission a few years earlier in southern Lebanon, known as Operation Blue and Brown.

Following his army career, Rubin launched a real estate business. He ran for mayor of Tel Aviv in 1998, gaining the support of then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but his campaign never really took off and he ended up losing soundly to the current Tel Aviv mayor, Ron Huldai. Rubin subsequently served on the municipal council.

The major general met with limited success in business. In the last years of his life, he served as chairman of an online car dealership.

He lived in the West Bank settlement of Har Adar. Rubin leaves behind his wife, Hagar, and four children.

His funeral was scheduled to be held in Tel Aviv’s Kiryat Shaul military cemetery on Sunday afternoon.

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