Israelis You Should Know: Avraham Botzer
The Fellowship | July 21, 2017
Lived: July 25, 1929 – June 2, 2012
Known for: As Commander of the Israeli Navy, Botzer helped build the Jewish state’s ability to defend herself at sea.
Why you should know him: Born to a Jewish family in Poland, young Avraham Botzer was taken along to make aliyah (immigrate) to the Holy Land at the age of seven. He joined the Palmach (the elite fighting force of the Haganah, which was the precursor to today’s IDF) in 1946. The next year, he helped with operations to smuggle Jewish Holocaust survivors from Europe into then-British-mandate Palestine. The British caught Botzer during one of these operations, confining him to an internment camp in Cyprus before releasing him because of his youth.
The following year, 1948, Botzer joined the new Israeli Navy in order to fight in Israel’s War of Independence. After the war, he remained in the navy, being promoted to captain, and serving during operations that were part of the Suez Crisis in 1956.
During the Six-Day War of 1967, Botzer commanded the Red Sea Fleet, conquering Sharm el-Sheikh.
Despite Israel’s victory in 1967, the Jewish state was forced to fight its Arab neighbors for the next three years. During this time, Botzer led many important operations, which included:
Operation Bulmus 6 – a raid against an Egyptian early warning radar station on July 19, 1969
Operation Escort – the destruction of Egyptian torpedo boats on September 7, 1969, allowing the IDF to successfully carry out Operation Raviv
Operation Raviv – an Israeli raid on Egypt’s Red Sea coast on September 9, 1969
Cherbourg Project – military operation on December 24, 1969 that involved the escape of five missile boats from the French port of Cherbourg
Until Botzer’s command, Israel’s navy had always been second-class compared to its ground and air forces. But Botzer built the navy up – bringing in submarines, missile boats, corvettes, and hi-tech torpedoes and missiles.
After retiring from the navy in 1972, Botzer became CEO of the Trans-Israel pipeline, also studying law and having a successful legal career.