Yitzhak Pundak, who served as a senior officer during the 1948 War of Independence, is the first person to rise to the rank of Major General after having completed active service. This is a “unique and precedent-setting moment,” said Chief of the General Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz at the ceremony.
By the time most Israelis pass the age for mandatory reserve duty, they expect their personal dealings with the IDF (Zahal) to be long over. Not so for Yitzhak Pundak, who this week was awarded the rank of Major General at the age of 100. Only the Chief of Staff himself holds a higher rank.
Maj. Gen. Pundak commanded the southern front during the War of Independence. After the war, he commanded the Nahal Brigade, and in 1953 was appointed to command the Armored Corps. In 1971 Pundak was called back to military service by then-Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, and was appointed Governor of the Gaza region at the rank of Brigadier General.
In 1954, Dayan, who was Chief of the General Staff at the time, decided to promote Pundak to the rank of Major General, but this promise was never realized. But this week, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and Chief of the General Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz righted a historic wrong and promoted Pundak, now 100 years old, to the rank he had been promised.
Lt. Gen. Gantz said at the ceremony that “Yitzhak’s tremendous legacy has guided us over the years. I feel that this is a unique and precedent-setting event, expressing appreciation and gratitude towards you and your activities. I’m glad that I was able to do what is right and promote you to Major General. This is an exciting moment for you, for your family and for the IDF (Zahal).”