Part of Northern Command
|Engagements 1948 Arab-Israeli War Sinai Six Day War War of Attrition Yom Kippur War 1982 Lebanon War 2006 Lebanon War|
The 7th Armored Brigade (Hebrew: חטיבה שבע, Hativa Sheva) is a military formation of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). Formed during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and in operation ever since, it is the oldest armored brigade in the IDF. The brigade took part in all of Israel's wars. During the Battles of Latrun in 1948, the 3rd Alexandroni and 7th Brigades together suffered 139 casualties. It fought in the Six-Day War under the command of Colonel Shmuel Gonen (Gorodish). In the Yom Kippur War, under the command of Colonel Avigdor Ben-Gal, it was stationed at the defense line of the northern part of the Golan Heights (sharing the defense with the Barak Armored Brigade), where it successfully repulsed heavy attacks by much larger Syrian forces.
During the 1948 War, the 7th Brigade primarily consisted of Sherman tanks and mounted infantry. Early on, the 7th also contained an artillery element. During the 1960s, the brigade was equipped with British Centurion tanks modified in Israel. These were gradually superseded in the late 1970s by the Israeli-made Merkavas, of which several versions have since been employed.
The 7th Brigade once belonged to Israel's Southern Command. The 7th was based in the Golan Heights as part of the 36th Armored Division from the end of the Yom Kippur War until February 2014.
In 1948, the brigade's reputation was as one of the crueler combat forces of the period. Israeli historian Ilan Pappé writes: "In many of the Palestinian oral histories that have now come to the fore, few brigade names appear. However, Brigade Seven is mentioned again and again, together with such adjectives as ‘terrorist’ and ‘barbarous.’"
The 7th Brigade was initially equipped with a jeeps and cars with a few machineguns in July 1948, when the experienced Canadian officer Ben Dunkelman took over. He sized up two approaching Egyptian battlegroups equipped with half-tracks, Sherman tanks and other vehicles. Dunkelman attacked both of them by surprise at night, when the crews were out of their vehicles. The Egyptian soldiers fled, allowing the 7th Brigade to appropriate their. arms and vehicles.