In a moving ceremony on Tuesday morning, Brigadier-General (res.) Yitzchak Pundak was raised to the rank of Major-General, sixty years after he was promised a promotion.
Pundak recently celebrated his 100th birthday.
He began his army service before the creation of the modern state of Israel, and was a commander in fighting on the southern front during the War of Independence. In 1953 he was made a commander of the armored corps, and in 1971 he was appointed by then-Defense Minister Moshe Dayan to head Israel’s oversight of Gaza as a Brigadier-General.
In 1954, Moshe Dayan – then the IDF Chief of Staff – had promised Pundak the rank of Major-General, but the promise was never fulfilled.
Nearly 60 years later, Pundak sat flanked by Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon and IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and finally received the long-awaited rank. He was the first person in Israeli history to be raised to the rank of Major-General after retirement.
During the ceremony Gantz told him, “Yitzchak, your tremendous contribution has been with us over the years. I feel that this is a unique, unprecedented event, and an expression of thanks to you and your work. I’m glad that it was in my hands to do the right thing and give you the rank of Major-General.”
Yaalon said, “When the Chief of Staff came to ask about giving Yitzchak the rank of Major-General it was an emotional moment, because this is the history they taught us about. We understood that we had an opportunity to right a historic wrong.”
“Since he came to Israel [Yitzchak] was in the Hagana, and then spent his whole life in public service – both in the IDF, representing the state of Israel abroad, establishing the city of Arab and being active in the Arad region,” he added.
“You, Major-General Yitzchak Pundak, deserve this rank, and I am happy that the Chief of Staff and I had the opportunity to do this historic justice,” he concluded.
Pundak said, “Honorable Chief of Staff and Defense Minister, today you healed an injury that I had for the last sixty years.”