In its 75-year history, the IDF has had many extraordinary fighters. Here is the story of one of them, the quiet and modest “legendary commando” Ido Rosenthal, who on October 7 helped save 530 residents of Kibbutz Alumim from Hamas killers: “Israel-Hamas war: How a legendary IDF commando was killed on October 7,” by Jonathan Spyer, Jerusalem Post, December 2, 2023:
“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….
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….
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.
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.”…
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.
How many Israelis, over how many decades of fighting, were saved by the quiet, modest, and fearless Ido Rosenthal? What is that Jewish saying for the newly dead? “May his memory be a blessing.”