One of my closest friend – Maj. Gen (res) Avigdor Yanush” Ben-Gal, a hero of the Yom Kippur War, died on Saturday evening at the age of 79. He was the first Israeli I ever met in 1990 in Poland after Communist regime collapsed. He was the one to inspire me to come to Israel. Shalom Haver.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described Ben-Gal as a child Holocaust survivor from Poland who grew up to become a major-general in the IDF, who went on to save the State of Israel from Syrian invasion in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. “Alter three weeks, Yanush and his soldiers were at the gates of Damascus. I knew him as a commander of unusual spirit and calm; brave, smart, not pretentious,” he said.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon described him as one of the commanders who shaped the IDF, Armored Corps and combat doctrines, in a way that “influenced the next generations of fighters, to this day, and will continue to do so in the future.”
Former president Shimon Peres described Ben-Gal as a leader and a human being who was as wise as he was brave. “His sharp intelligence conquered the hearts of his soldiers and friends.”
The IDF Spokesman’s Office said that the General Staff and Chief of Staff Lt.- Gen. Gadi Eisenkot cherish Ben-Gal’s memory and share in his family’s sorrow. “The IDF salutes Maj.-Gen. (res). Avigdor “Yanush” Ben Gal for his actions, legacy, and contribution of many years to the State of Israel’s security,” the military said.
Ben-Gal was born in Lodz, Poland, in 1936. After the Germans invaded, his family fled to Siberia in the Soviet Union. His parents died on the way, and he and his sister made their way to Iran, and then, in 1943, to Israel, part of the Tehran Children. They were raised by a distant cousin. He joined the IDF, and fought in the Suez War in 1956. Having planned to become a physician, Ben-Gal decided to stay in the army.
During the Six Day War, he was the operations chief of a brigade that broke through Egyptian fortifications in Sinai. His jeep struck a mine, and he lost half his right foot. He then commanded a battalion during the War of Attrition with Egypt.
During the Yom Kippur, Ben- Gal commanded the 7th Armored Brigade on the Golan Heights, including in the Battle of the Valley of Tears, holding out against much larger Syrian forces, until reserve forces arrived at the front.
He led the IDF’s Northern Command from 1977 to 1981. He was chairman of the board of directors of Israel Aerospace Industries from 1996 to 2002, and served on the board of the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism. In 2009, he became chairman of the board of directors at N.S.O Group Technologies, “During the most difficult days of the Yom Kippur War, when Israel’s destiny was at stake, [Ben-Gal] and his soldiers bravely defended the northern border with their lives,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday night.