On this day: Ezer Weizman is born

June 15 1924: Israel’s seventh president

By Anna Slater, June 15, 2011

The legend who made his name as one of Israel's most celebrated fighting men and went on to become president of Israel was born in Tel Aviv. Unpredictable, quixotic and cantankerous were just some of the words the press used to describe him over the years. However, he was well-known for playing the roles of military hero and an architect of peace.

He wanted to fight Nazis – and in 1942 he enlisted in the British army to do just that, serving as a truck driver in the Western Desert campaigns in Egypt and Libya.

After studying aeronautics in England in 1948, he learned to fly Aviva S-199 airplanes and became one of two men who took the planes out with two 70 kg bombs to attack fleeing Egyptians – coming out of it unscathed.

Weizman's lucky streak would continue; he was to survive another attack a year later, when he flew one of four Israeli Spitfires that clashed with 14 British Spitfires and Tempests. Three planes were shot down by the IAF – but Weizman came out without a bruise on his body.

After leaving the military and becoming the Minister of Defence, entered politics and was elected president in May 13, 1993. His presidency was marked by his faithful visits to families of fallen soldiers and terror victims, and his constant advocacy of peace and meetings with Arab leaders.

He was re-elected to a second term in May 1998, however resigned two years later amidst allegations of corruption.

After his death from respiratory failure on 24th April 2004, he was not buried at Mount Herzel where all other Israeli Prime Minister's were buried. Instead, he was interred at Or Akiva alongside his son and daughter-in-law.

Last updated: 9:16am, June 15 2011