Jewish air force in Jewish Palestine

Remez (right) and Shechtman. The iniative for Sherut Ha’avir came from them Shechtman and Remez propose the creation of a Jewish aerial force


Aharon Remez, who would later become the IAF’s second commander, had been mulling the idea of creating a Jewish air force since his days of service in the RAF, in WW2. He described his thoughts in letters to his friend Hyman Shechtman (Shamir), who served in the US Air Force at the time and later became Deputy Commander of the IAF under Remez.

In August 1947, at the behest of Yisrael Galili, the Hagana’s Head of National Staff, the two began preparing a formal plan for the establishment of an aerial force for the Jewish population in Palestine. Remez and Shechtman, who were acquainted up close with the British and American air forces, wrote up a comprehensive plan that was based on their asserted conviction that the Jews’ aerial force would be decisive in the expected confrontation with the Arab countries’ regular forces.

The plan, which was submitted to Galili on October 23rd 1947, outlined stages for the gradual building of an air force, takig into consideration the degree of British supervision and the phases of the expected British withdrawal. It divided the country into three areas, with a wing of the planned Air Force assigned to operate in each. Shechtman and Remez also elaborated on the planned Aerial Staff and its duties. The types of planes recommended in their plan were chosen in view of the variety of assignments the Air Force would be facing, and took into consideration the ground and maintenance infrastructure that existed at the time, the possibility of training pilots to operate the planes within a short period of time, and the difficulties involved in procurement, including price and transport.

David Ben Gurion, who headed the established Jewish leadership and would be the first Israeli Prime Minister, viewed the plan favorably. A decision was made: Sherut Ha’avir would be established.