Mordechai Hod, 76, a retired Israeli major general who commanded his country's air force during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, died June 29 at a hospital in Tel Aviv. The cause of death was not reported.
Gen. Hod, a British Army veteran who joined the Israeli air force in 1949, directed repeated sorties over Arab airfields on June 5, 1967, in a preemptive strike, destroying most of their planes and helping to ensure a quick Israeli victory. Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Arab Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and Sinai Desert during the operation that became known as the Six-Day War.
Israel later returned the Sinai Desert to Egypt in exchange for peace but still holds the other territories.
The official Israeli military history says the strike was planned before Gen. Hod became air force commander in 1966. It was carried out after Egypt ordered a U.N. peace force out of the Sinai Desert and blockaded the Straits of Tiran, cutting off the Israeli Red Sea port of Eilat.
Gen. Hod, who was born on a kibbutz, volunteered to serve in the British Army. Joining the Israeli air force in 1949, a year after the state was founded, he became the first fighter pilot to earn his wings in an Israeli air force course.
After retiring from the air force, Gen. Hod founded a cargo airline, Kal, in 1975, and served as chairman of Israel's national airline, El Al, from 1977 to 1979.