Lt. Gen. (res.) Mordechai “Motta” Gur, the IDF’s 10th Chief of the General Staff, is remembered as one of Israel’s greatest leaders and military heroes.

He led the IDF’s liberation of Jerusalem; he oversaw the epic rescue of Israeli hostages in Uganda; and when he passed away at the age of 65, Israel lost one of its greatest military heroes. Today, 18 years after his death, we remember Mordechai “Motta” Gur, the 10th IDF Chief of the General Staff.

The Life of an IDF Hero: Remembering Mordechai “Motta” Gur

Lt. Gen. (res.) Moredechai Gur

Lt. Gen. (res.) Gur was born in Jerusalem in 1930, when Israel was still under the control of the British Mandate. By the time he turned 18, he was already an elite combat soldier in the Haganah, the underground defense force of pre-state Israel. After the State of Israel was founded, Lt. Gen. (res.) Gur became a paratrooper in the IDF and quickly came to be known as the symbol of the “Red Berets.”

His bravery took him across Israel in a number of counter-terrorism operations. He rose up the ranks of the IDF and in the 1960s became the commander of the 55th Paratrooper Brigade, the group of reservists that overcame Jordanian forces during the 1967 Six Day War to reunify Jerusalem under Israeli control.

In 1974,  Lt. Gen. (res.) Gur became the IDF Chief of the General Staff. As the leader of the IDF, he planned and executed Operation Entebbe, the mission that rescued 103 Jewish hostages from a plane hijacked by terrorists.

The Life of an IDF Hero: Remembering Mordechai “Motta” Gur

Lt. Gen. (res.) Chief of the General Staff Mordechai Gur as a paratrooper before an operation in 1956

In 1978, Lt. Gen. (res.) Gur oversaw Operation Litani, an unprecedented military effort against terrorist strongholds in Southern Lebanon. Within days, the IDF took control of areas deep within Lebanon, successfully clearing terrorist forces throughout its southern region.

After finishing his career in the IDF, Lt. Gen. (res.) Gur continued his service to the State of Israel. He was elected four times as a member of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. During two of his terms as a legislator, he served Israel as its Minister of Health and Deputy Minister of Defense.

Throughout his life, Lt. Gen. (res.) Gur  traveled throughout the world – from the Military Academy in Paris, where he developed his skills as an officer, to Washington D.C., where he served as Israel’s military attache to the United States. But no matter what, he always returned home to Israel. As one of Israel’s greatest heroes, he devoted his life to protecting and leading its people.