Maj. Gen. (res.) Avigdor (Yanush) Ben-Gal, former IDF Northern Commander, passed away on Saturday at the age of 80 following a struggle with a serious illness.
The former commander leaves behind his wife and seven children. The date for his funeral has yet to be set.
Ben-Gal served as commander of the Seventh Armored Brigade during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, where he played a key role in blocking the advance of the Syrian army into Israel.
In August 1977 he was appointed IDF Northern Commander, a role he served in until 1981. Then in 1983, after being considered for IDF Chief of Staff but not getting the role, he retired from the IDF at the rank of major-general.
Throughout the 1990s he was the chairperson on the board of directors of Israel Aerospace Industries, and from 2009 on he served as chairperson on the board of directors of N.S.O Group Technologies Ltd.
Back in 1979 during his time as Northern Commander, Ben-Gal raised a storm in the media when he termed the Arab citizens of Israel a "cancer in the body of the state," and called to increase the Jewish presence in the Galilee, a region that has long had an Arab majority.
Many politicians eulogized Ben-Gal on Saturday night, including Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who said, "together with the rest of the people of Israel I grieve the passing of the hero of Israel, major-general in reserves Yanush Ben-Gal."
"In the most difficult days of the Yom Kippur War, when the fate of Israel was hanging in the balance, Yanush and his brave soldiers defended the northern borders with their bodies. They checked the Syrian assault and afterwards went on the attack, bringing the IDF to the gates of Damascus."
"Yanush was a gifted military leader with extraordinary inspiration and courage," concluded Netanyahu. "He will be remembered as one of the greatest commanders who rose in the nation of Israel in recent times."