This week in Israeli history: July 15-21

JULY 19: Stella Levy, shown in 1970, commanded the IDF Women’s Corps for six years. Photo by Fritz Cohen, Israeli National Photo Collection


July 15, 1965 — Rabin Warns Against Diversion of Jordan River

The Israel Defense Forces’ chief of staff, Yitzhak Rabin, warns Lebanon and Syria they will face consequences if they move forward with an Arab League-backed effort to divert the sources of the Jordan River. Rabin has twice ordered tanks to bombard the border area of Syria to destroy earth-moving equipment involved in the construction of a canal to shift the flow of the Hasbani River away from the Jordan to the Banias and then to the Yarmouk.

July 16, 1948 — Violinist Pinchas Zukerman Is Born

Grammy-winning classical musician and conductor Pinchas Zukerman is born in Tel Aviv. He begins playing the violin by age 8, and by age 14 he is studying at the Juilliard School in New York under the sponsorship of violinist Isaac Stern, who also becomes his legal guardian. Zukerman plays violin and viola at his debut professional concert at Lincoln Center in 1969 and launches his conducting career in London the next year.

July 17, 1906 — Kibbutz Pioneer Yitzchak Ben-Aharon Is Born

Yitzchak Ben-Aharon, a pioneer of the kibbutz movement, is born in Bukovina, Romania. He makes it to Palestine in 1928 by walking and riding a donkey. He helps found Kibbutz Givat Haim between Haifa and Tel Aviv and lives there until his death in 2006 at age 99. He fights for the British in World War II and spends four years as a prisoner of war. A labor activist and advocate of coexistence with the Arabs, he serves seven Knesset terms.

July 18, 1999 — Songwriter Meir Ariel Dies

Folk-rock singer-songwriter Meir Ariel, known as the “Man of Words” for his poetic lyrics, dies at age 57 of Mediterranean spotted fever, contracted from a tick bite. Many of his songs become Israeli classics through recordings by the likes of David Broza, Arik Einstein and Shalom Hanoch. One of his most famous songs is “Jerusalem of Iron,” a response to “Jerusalem of Gold” that was inspired by his service as a paratrooper in the Six-Day War.

July 19, 1999 — Top Officer Stella Levy Dies

Stella Levy, who commanded the Israel Defense Forces’ Women’s Corps from 1964 to 1970, dies. She was born in Syria in 1924 and moved to Haifa in 1929. She participated in the IDF’s first officer training course for women. During her military service, she oversaw the transit camps for new immigrants. She unsuccessfully ran for the Knesset in 1977, then was appointed to fill a vacancy in 1981. But she lost the seat in the election that year.

July 20, 1951 — Jordan’s King Abdullah Is Assassinated

Palestinian nationalists assassinate Jordan’s first king, Abdullah I, at the entrance to Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Abdullah established Transjordan as an emirate under the British Mandate for Palestine in 1921 and made it a kingdom upon independence in 1946. He discussed peace before Israel declared independence but chose to bring his British-trained Arab Legion into the 1948 war and captured the area known as the West Bank.

July 21, 1973 — Mossad Kills Wrong Man in Norway

A Mossad team targeting the terrorists responsible for the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre fatally shoots a Moroccan waiter, Ahmed Bouchiki, in Lillehammer, Norway. The Israelis mistake the waiter for PLO official Ali Hassan Salameh, believed to be the massacre’s mastermind. Five people working for the Mossad are convicted in the killing; a sixth is acquitted. Nine others escape. Salameh is killed by a car bomb in Beirut in 1979.

Items are provided by the Center for Israel Education (, where you can find more details.