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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Maj. Gen. (Res.) Amos Horev - 2010 Board of Governors Meeting

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Amos Horev, past president of the Technion and head of the Israel Technion Society speaks to the members of the 2010 Board of governors about his experiences in the Palmach when they liberated the British prison camp in Atlit before the declaration of the State of Israel. Lecture filmed outside the Atlit museum.

Amos Horev (born in Jerusalem in 1924) is an Israeli former Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) major-general, Chief of Ordnance and subsequently Quartermaster General and Chief Scientist of the IDF, military expert, nuclear scientist, President of Technion University, and Chairman of Rafael.

Horev has served on and headed a number of government commissions of inquiry. The Commission of Inquiry he headed that investigated the events of the Ma'alot massacre listed a number of mistakes that it concluded were the responsibility of the Israeli political or security echelons. He also chaired the Horev Committee, which examined problems caused by divisions between the Israeli government and the Jewish Agency. That committee recommended dismantling the government's Ministry of Absorption, a suggestion which met with strong government opposition.

In June 2010, he was appointed to the Israeli special independent Turkel Commission of Inquiry into the Gaza flotilla raid

Early Lilfe

Horev's father's surname was Suhatchover. His parents immigrated to Israel from Warsaw, Poland, in 1919, two years after the Balfour Declaration. His parents later realized that had they not left, they would likely have been killed by the Nazis, as were many of their relatives who stayed.

He joined the Haganah at the age of 14, and at 17 left high school to join the Palmach. At the age of 19 Horev was commissioned as an officer, then promoted to platoon commander, and then company commander. He commanded the Palmach's H (Jerusalem) Company before leaving to study at Technion University. He was subsequently recalled and appointed commander of Jerusalem's Zone 5, which included the business district. When the United Nations voted to partition Palestine into two states, one of Horev's tasks was to run convoys to supply Jewish areas of Jerusalem that had been cut off. During the Israeli War of Independence, he was an Operations Officer, and was instrumental in creating the Burma Road, Israel's lifeline to Jerusalem during the Siege of Jerusalem. He was Deputy Commander of the 6th Palmach Battalion, second to Yitzhak Rabin. During the war, he figured out how to adapt American-made Sherman M4 tanks to local terrain, turning them into M50 Super Shermans that remained in IDF service until the Yom Kippur War.

Remembering that time, he said:
We asked every day, 'Are we going to make it or not?' ... We didn't know if we could protect Jerusalem, where we had 100,000 people. My parents were there... We were so poor in weapons... We felt the world had granted us a state without giving us the means to defend it.... We suffered from a total embargo.
Horev attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology after the war, completing his BA and a master's in mechanical engineering.

Later military career

Horev established and directed the IDF Department for Weapons Development, and then served as the IDF's Chief of Ordnance/Armaments Division (1954–62) and later as Chief of Logistics and Chief Scientist.

In the 1973 Yom Kippur War, as the fighting ended, during a night along the trenches of the Egypt's Third Army, he discovered and dragged out of his tank the dead body of his son-in-law, a tank commander. In 1979 Horev was reported as saying "I am still involved with Israel's nuclear research and all I can say is that we have the capability -- but will never be the first to use nuclear arms against any country". Horev continues to serve in a senior advisory roles to the defense establishment.