Meir Javedanfar
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The Iranians behind the Israeli rescue missions

Taking pride in the outsized representation of fellow Persians among Israel's top army commanders

Iranian commanders in the Israeli Defense Forces seem to be well suited for overseas missions.

First was Shaul Mofaz (formerly known as Shahram Mofazazkar). He was one of the commanders of the elite Israeli special forces team which flew to Uganda to save Jewish and Israeli hostages as part of the legendary operation Entebbe.

The Esfahani origin, Tehran born Mofaz’s job was to command a team which destroyed all of the Ugandan air force MiGs on the ground. Failure to do so could have enabled Idi Amin who was helping the terrorists to use these planes to chase the Israeli planes after they had taken off. Mofaz’s team had to do this while other Israeli commandos fought off Ugandan forces and Palestinian and German terrorists who were keeping the hostages.

That was in 1976.

And  just days ago, Colonel Ramtin Sebti another Iranian commander in the IDF, commanded an Israeli rescue mission of a different kind: to the Philippines to help the victims of typhoon Haiyan. The mission consists of 148 specialists, a field hospital, 100 tons of humanitarian and medical aid.

Colonel Sebti, originally from Tehran’s Yousef Abad neighborhood, belongs to my generation of Iranian immigrants. He left Iran 26 years ago in 1987 at the age of 15, and was smuggled across the Iranian border to Pakistan, much like many of my school friends. Today he heads one of the most coveted forces in the Israeli army, the National Search and Rescue Unit. This unit is in charge of rescuing victims of missile attacks as well as natural disasters such as earthquakes and typhoons. It has taken part in rescue operations in places such as Haiti, Kenya, Turkey and now the Philippines.

Name me another country where Iranians have reached such high positions of power.

Below is an interview with Colonel Sebti in Persian. Among other things he says how proud he is of his Iranian roots and that if one day there is an earthquake in Iran (God forbid), he would like to help the victims. So proud of him:

About the Author
Meir Javedanfar is an Iranian-Israeli lecturer, author, and commentator. He has been teaching Iranian politics at Reichman University in Israel since 2012 and is Anti-Defamation League’s Iran consultant.