Yisrael Amir

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Yisrael Amir
Born (1902-11-11)November 11, 1902
Vilnius, Russian Empire
(present-day Lithuania)
Died November 1, 2002(2002-11-01) (aged 99)
Allegiance Israel Israel Defense Forces
Years of service 1929–1969
Rank Aluf
Commands held Commander of Sherut Avir, Commander of Israeli Air Force
Battles/wars World War II
Israeli War of Independence
Suez Crisis
Six Day War
War of Attrition

Lt. Col. Yisrael Amir (Hebrew: ישראל עמיר; November 11, 1902 – November 1, 2002) was the first commander of the Israeli Air Force.


Amir was born Yisrael Zabludowski in Vilnius on November 11, 1902, then a part of the Russian Empire, and ended up moving to the British Mandate of Palestine in 1923. Amir then began his military career by joining the newly created Haganah, a Jewish paramilitary group. Following Israel's declaration of statehood on May 14, 1948, the Israel Defense Forces was formed from the Haganah and Jewish Brigade. The air wing of the Haganah, Sherut Avir, was reorganized as the Israeli Air Force, and Amir was appointed its first commander by Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion on May 16. Sherut Avir had operated a small collection of aged and non-military aircraft, so the greatest problem facing the new air force was the procurement of modern military airplanes. Amir immediately secured an order of several Messerschmitt fighters and US B-17 Flying Fortress which were ferried to Israel through in Czechoslovakia. Amir retired from his military career in 1969. He died 10 days before his hundredth birthday on November 1, 2002.