Yitzhak Hofi, an Israeli army general who as his country’s top spymaster helped coordinate the daring commando raid to free Israeli hostages in Entebbe, Uganda, and took steps toward normalizing relations with Egypt before the Camp David peace talks, died Sept. 15 in Ramat Gan, Israel. He was 87.
The government announced the death but did not cite a cause.
Mr. Hofi was eulogized by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for having worked “all his life on behalf of the security of the state of Israel.” He was widely regarded as one of the most effective leaders of the Mossad, the espionage agency he led from 1974 to 1982 that was known for its derring-do in counterterrorism, covert operations and helping Jewish immigration to Israel.
As part of Israel’s founding generation, Mr. Hofi served in the Palmach, the underground paramilitary force of pre-independence Israel. After Israel became a nation in 1948, he was among the Palmach fighters who helped build the new country’s Israeli Defense Forces.
Over the next quarter-century, Mr. Hofi rose through the ranks of the IDF and distinguished himself as commander of the northern front against Syria during the 1973 Arab-Israeli War. The next year, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin appointed Mr. Hofi head of the Mossad, even though he had no background in intelligence work.
He presided over a momentous period in Israel’s and the agency’s history. Under his direction, the Mossad simultaneously worked to kill Nazis and terrorists and to look for openings for peace with Arab countries.