Brig. General Yitzhak Yaakov, Who Developed Arms for Israel During Six Day War, Dies at 87

'Yicha,' as he was called, was head of the IDF's weapons research and development program; a memoir he published during retirement had him convicted of handing over of secret information without authorization.

Moti Kimche

Brigadier General Yitzhak "Yicha" Yaakov, who headed the Israel Defense Forces' weapons research and development program at the end of the 1960s and the beginning of the 1970s, died on Monday, a day after his 87th birthday.

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Yaakov was one of Israel's leading officers in the field of weapons development during the buildup to the Six Day War and afterwards. During the war he was appointed to command a complex and unprecedented operation in the Sinai peninsula, where was to command both IAF pilots and a special ops unit. The IDF's rapid success in defeating the Egyptian army made the operation redundant and it was cancelled.

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"Yicha," born Jacobson, was born in Tel Aviv in 1926. He joined the Palmach, the elite fighting force of the Haganah, the Jewish community's underground army during the British Mandate period in Palestine. During the Israeli War of Independence in 1948, he served in active duty on the route to Jerusalem at first as platoon commander, eventually becoming a replacement battalion commander.

At the end of the 90s, Yaakov lived in New York and wrote a memoir and a non-fiction book based on his experiences. Publishing these books led to his arrest in 2001 when on a visit to Israel. He was charged with passing on secret information without authorization and with intent to harm state security.

He was acquitted of the more serious charges in his indictment: passing secret information without authority and with intent to harm state security, but was found guilty of the lesser charge of unauthorized handing over of secret information. He was given a two-year suspended sentence. He never fully recovered from this legal ordeal. During his final days he bitterly discussed its details with fellow retired officers.

The details of his funeral have yet to be released.