Benny Peled - Air Force Commander of IAF 1928-2002
Updated: May 5
Benny Peled is one of Israel’s greatest qualities is the devotion its citizens have to their beautiful country. We are a country filled with heroes- of war, of social justice, of Zionism and nationalism.
One of those heroes was Benny Peled, who was the IDF Air Force commander during one of Israel’s most challenging and scary times - the Yom Kippur War.
The Yom Kippur War overtook Israel on Yom Kippur of 1973 when Egypt and Syria led an Arab coalition that surprised an unprepared Israel on a day of intense prayer and fasting.
Acting fast, Israel turned its position around and was able to defend itself and fight back successfully, and Benny Peled was a large player in this story.
Peled was born in Tel Aviv in 1928, a true Israeli Sabra. His father worked for the British Mandate before Israel claimed independence, and was responsible for building the airports of Israel. Peled studied mechanical engineering at the Technion in Haifa, and began his illustrious military career prematurely, as Israel’s independence was on the horizon.
In 1948, he made his way to the Air Force as a mechanic, and one year later he started their aviation course, in which he passed with the highest honors. In 1956, during Mivtza Kadesh, Peled’s plane was hit by the Egyptians and he was forced to escape the burning plane using an ejection seat, being the first-ever Israeli pilot to do so. Peled hid in the desert until a rescue plane safely retrieved him!
After climbing the ranks, Peled became the Israeli Air Force Commander in May of 1973, several months before the Yom Kippur War broke out. During the first days of the war, the Air Force mainly assisted the infantry and ground forces, who were wildly unprepared for this war. Once the IDF began their major turnaround in the war, the Air Force began attacking Egyptian and Syrian targets deep within enemy lines, under Peled’s command.
Peled also commanded the Air Force during Operation Entebbe, in which many Israelis were held hostage in an airport in Uganda just a few years later.
Benny Peled passed away an Israeli hero on July 13th, 2002, forever in the hearts of the Israeli people.