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100 Year-Old Appointed as Major General

The IDF promised to promote Brig. Gen Yitzhak Pundak in 1954, but never got around to it - until now.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 8/18/2013, 5:11 PM

Yitzhak Pundak
Yitzhak Pundak
IDF Spokesman

Brigadier General (ret.) Yitzhak Pundak, 100, will soon be promoted to the rank of major general, 59 years after then-IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Dayan promised him the promotion. The current chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, has told Pundak that he intends to fufill the promise, which Dayan never got around to carry out.

Israel Hayom reported Sunday that Pundak will be the first brigadier general in the history of the IDF who receives the rank of major general when he is no longer in active service.

Pundak has been fighting for decades to get the rank he feels he was cheated out of.

Pundak was the commander of the 53rd Battalion of the Givati Brigade in the War of Independence and went on to supervise the establishment of the Armored Corps. He was also Ambassador in Tanzania and a founder of the town of Arad.

In the summer of 1954, Dayan promised Pundak to make him a major general, but several months later, he informed him that he could not fulfill the commitement, since then-defense minister Pinhas Lavon objected.

Lavon resigned three months later, but Dayan never got around to fulfill his promise. Pundak was discharged from the IDF, but returned to serve as governor of Gaza and northern Sinai, with the rank of brigadier general, when Dayan was Minister of Defense. He retired before the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War.

"This is the fulfillment of a dream,” Pundak said. “I waited 59 years for the rank that I was robbed of, and here I am, finally receiving it. You could say I am in the clouds. To celebrate my 100th birthday and to turn into a general, all that within the space of two months – what more can one ask?”

In an interview on the occasion of his 100th birthday, Pundak confirmed that forces under his command razed Arab villages in 1948.

“My conscience is at ease with that," he said, "because if we hadn't done so, then there would be no state by now. There would be a million more Arabs."

The War of Independence was a coordinated attack by several Arab countries and various Arab non-state actors against the fledgling State of Israel, with the stated intent of genocide. Tens of thousands of Arabs fled their homes after being encouraged to do so by Arab leaders at the time, who promised them that they could return once a comprehensive massacre of the Jewish community had been conducted.