From Aircraft Mechanic to Air Force Commander

The Fellowship  |  October 7, 2020

Benny Peled
Benny Peled

Born in Tel Aviv in then British-mandate Palestine, Binyamin “Benny” Peled first served the Holy Land as a teenager in the British military police. But when Israel began her fight for independence, Peled joined the Israeli Air Force (IAF) as a mechanic.

Building Israel’s First Fight Plane

When Israel’s War for Independence broke out, the Jewish state had an air force with no airplanes. One of the first to arrive, a Nazi Messerschmitt BF-109 fighter plane from WWII, came disassembled. But Benny Peled assembled the aircraft, giving Israel her first combat plane. Peled soon moved from mechanic to pilot, patrolling the skies of the Holy Land.

Building Israel’s Air Force

First, Peled fought for Israel’s independence. Then he ushered in the jet age for the Jewish state, commanding Israel’s first three jet fighter squadrons. In 1956, Peled became the first Israeli pilot to use an ejector seat when his plane, struck by Egyptian anti-aircraft fire, went down during the Suez and Sinai campaign.

After serving in the 1967 Six-Day War, Peled became commander of the IAF in 1973. That year, Israel’s enemies attacked on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year. Despite early losses, Peled successfully led Israel’s response from the air. And then, in 1976, he planned and oversaw Operation Entebbe, the daring rescue of more than 100 hostages held by terrorists in Uganda.

A true lifelong servant and hero of the Holy Land and an Israeli You Should Know, Benny Peled passed away in 2002, and is buried in his hometown of Tel Aviv.