Mofaz, Shaul

(1948- )
   Born in Iran, he immigrated (see ALIYA) to Israel in 1957, grew up in Eilat, and went to the Nahalal agricultural high school. He entered the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in 1966 and fought as a paratrooper in the Six-Day War (1967), as a unit commander along the Suez Canal during the War of Attrition (1969-70), and as a commander of the paratrooper reconnaissance unit in the Yom Kippur War (1973). He commanded the cover unit in the 1976 IDF operation to free hostages being held at the Entebbe airport in Uganda (Operation Entebbe), and he was an infantry brigade commander in the War in Lebanon (1982). Key postings included deputy commander of the elite general staff reconnaissance unit (Sayeret Matkal); commander of the IDF officers' school; commander of the Paratrooper Brigade; commander of IDF forces in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip; officer in command of the southern command; head of the IDF planning branch; Israeli representative to security negotiations with the Palestinians; and deputy chief of the general staff. He became the IDF's chief of staff on 9 July 1998. Upon his retirement from active service in 2002, he immediately joined the Likud Party and was appointed minister of defense in November 2002. Elected for the first time to the 16th Knesset in 2003, he was reappointed to the defense portfolio.
   Upon Ariel Sharon's departure from Likud in November 2005, Mofaz entered the party's leadership race. A day after reiterating his determination to remain "at home" in the Likud (and trailing badly in the leadership polls), however, Mofaz quit the party and joined Sharon's new Kadima Party in December 2005. Mofaz was reelected to the 17th Knesset (2006) and appointed minister of transportation and road safety and deputy prime minister in Ehud Olmert's government of May 2006.

Historical Dictionary of Israel. .

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