A ceremony Thursday, May 17, in ancient Shiloh installed Lt. Col. Nitai Okashi as the commander of the ultra-Orthodox battalion Netzach Yehuda (Nahal Haredi), replacing Lt. Col. Itamar Deshel.
Okashi received a medal of distinction in 2007 from the OC Southern Command for a display of courage, resourcefulness, determination, leadership and personal example for commanding his soldiers in foiling an attempted terrorist attack near Gaza.
A Golani Brigade platoon commanded by Okashi, then a captain, responded to suspicious movements near the Gaza border fence July 21, 2007, and confronted two terrorists at close range. The soldiers killed one of the terrorists.
Okashi spotted the second terrorist between him and his men, whom he ordered to lie down so he wouldn’t accidentally shoot them, and he ran toward the terrorist alone. He was out of bullets, so grappled with the man bare-handed. He saw that the terrorist was planning to blow up a grenade, so Okashi turned the man to deflect most of the impact with his body. Both men were wounded, and they struggled until the rest of the platoon killed the terrorist.
The Nahal Haredi organization, which provides rabbis to accompany Haredi soldiers on their military service, issued a statement: “We thank the committed commander Lt. Col. Itamar Deshel for his dedication and work for the soldiers. They won the privilege of a wonderful and ethical commander who supported them during active duty and when they were on furlough. We commend Lt. Col. Nitai Okashi for his new position and wish him great success. We are proud of our role in helping battalion commanders over the years and also for our role in helping the precious soldiers who do the task of safeguarding the people of Israel and the land of Israel while maintaining a Haredi lifestyle.”