Avigdor "Yanush" Ben-Gal (Hebrew: אביגדור בן-גל; 1936 – February 13, 2016; born Janusz Goldlust) was an Israeli general.
He was born in 1936, in Łódź, Poland, as Janusz Ludwig Goldlust. When he was three years old, World War II broke out with Germany invading Poland. His family left Poland for the USSR, and finally arrived in Siberia. After his parents disappeared, he eventually arrived in Tel Aviv with his sister on the Tehran transport. They were taken in and raised by a distant cousin.
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."
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.
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.
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.
His testimony, however, contradicted earlier statements he had made at Tel Aviv University, where he had stated that the greatest problem with the Lebanon War was the "secret, unapproved plan of the defense minister and chief of staff."
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.
From 1996 to 2002, he was chairman of the board of directors for Israel Aerospace Industries. He also served 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 sown 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.
From 2009 until his death, he served as chairman of the board of directors for N.S.O Group Technologies. Ben-Gal died on February 13, 2016.
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