Avigdor Ben-Gal

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Avigdor "Yanush" Ben-Gal (Hebrew: אביגדור בן-גל‎; born 1936) is a former Israeli General.

Life[edit]

Early life[edit]

Ben-Gal was born 1936 in Lodz, Poland. When he was three years old, World War II broke out with Germany invading Poland. His parents died in the Holocaust.[1] He left Poland and eventually arrived in Tel Aviv with his sister. They were taken in and raised by a distant cousin.[2]

Military career[edit]

A few years after Israel became independent and won the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, Ben-Gal was drafted into the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). His first combat experience came during the 1956 Suez War with Egypt. Despite having dreamed of being a doctor, he decided to stay in the army after his mandatory military service was finished. In an interview, he explained his reasons:

"I never intended to turn the army into a career, but I remained because I liked it. I loved the Negev, the desert, the fields. I loved speeding in jeeps. Later I got used to the army, and it became a part of me. And maybe also, I was afraid to make a new start in life."[2]

During the Six-Day War in 1967, he was the operations chief of a brigade that broke through Egyptian fortifications in the Sinai. He lost half his right foot when his jeep struck a mine. By 1972, he had been appointed commander of a brigade.[2]

During the Yom Kippur War in 1973, Ben-Gal commanded the 7th Armored Brigade and oversaw the defense of the Golan Heights against Syrian attack. Ben-Gal had foreseen the war two weeks before it started, and had begun preparing his brigade. As the threat of war wasn't being taken seriously in Israel at the time, he had been branded a "madman". However, when the war broke out, his brigade was the only IDF unit in a state of full readiness.[2]

The heroic stand of the 7th Armored Brigade and Yanush Ben-Gal's personal heroism and leadership are believed by many to be decisive factors in the Israeli victory over the Syrians. [1][3][4][5]

In 1977, Ben-Gal was appointed head of the Northern Command. He served in this position until late-summer 1981, when he was replaced by General Amir Drori.[6]

Later life[edit]

In June 1997 he was called to testify in a libel suit that Ariel Sharon brought against the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz for their claim that he had concealed his plans for an operation into Lebanon in 1982 - during which Ben Gal was still leading the Northern Command.[7]

His testimony at trial, however, contradicted earlier statements he had made at Tel Aviv University where he stated that the greatest problem with the Lebanon War was the secret, unapproved plan of the defense minister and chief of staff.[8]

The following month Ha'aretz requested that the Attorney General investigate the possibility that Ben-Gal had given false testimony in court in exchange for business favours from Sharon. The complaint noted that shortly before his appearance at the trial, Ben-Gal was sent by Sharon to explore the possibility of a large natural gas deal in Russia.[9]

In 2001, Ben-Gal reportedly submitted an application to train the Congo Army in Israel.[10][11]

From 1996 to 2002 he was Chairman of the Board of Directors for Israel Aerospace Industries.[11][12][13] He also serves on the board for the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism.

During a 2007 military conference in Latrun, Ben-Gal sharply criticized what he viewed as a deterioration in the battle readiness of the IDF, and claimed that the IDF's technological revolution has turned soldiers into "bionic machines" and sewn fear among senior officers that open criticism would hamper advancement in their own careers. He expressed the view that all the new technologies being introduced were useless, and claimed that it had gotten to the point where commanders prefer to email each other instead of interacting.[14]

Since 2009 he has been serving as Chairman of the Board of Directors for N.S.O Group Technologies.

References[edit]