Yitzhak Mordechai (born 22 November 1944) is an Israeli former general and politician. He served as a member of the Knesset between 1996 and 2001, and as Minister of Defense and Minister of Transport. He retired from political life after being indicted for sexual assaults during his military service and later periods.
Mordechai was born in Iraqi Kurdistan, and made aliyah to Israel in 1949. He holds a BA in history from Tel Aviv University and an MA in Political Science from the University of Haifa. In 1962 he enlisted to the Combat Engineering Corps of the IDF and later joined the Paratroopers Brigade. In the 1973 Yom Kippur War, he was battalion commander in the Battle of the Chinese Farm in Sinai, and was decorated with the Medal of Courage. In 1984, in what became known as the Kav 300 affair, Mordechai, then a Brigadier General, was framed for the killing of two Palestinian bus hijackers. Mordechai was tried, and acquitted when the truth became known. He was promoted to the rank of Major-General in 1986, and became known as the "General of the Three Commands", after serving as commander of all three territorial commands (North, Center and South).
The First Intifada broke out in December 1987, when Mordechai was commander of the Southern Command. As commander of the Northern Command he commanded over Operation Accountability in 1993. Mordechai retired from active service in 1995 after 33 years of service, when new Chief of General Staff Amnon Lipkin-Shahak did not appoint him as his deputy. RMDL Gregory Johnson, Commander, Carrier Group 8, briefs Minister of Defense Yitzhak Mordechai during a tour of the nuclear powered aircraft carrier, 1997. In 1995 Mordechai joined Likud and was on the party's list for the elections the following year. After Binyamin Netanyahu won the election for Prime Minister, he appointed Mordechai as Defense Minister, where he became Lipkin-Shahak's boss.
In 1999, a public rift occurred between Mordechai and Netanyahu because of political rivalry and difference of opinion regarding the negotiations with Palestinians. Netanyahu dismissed Mordechai shortly before Mordechai would have reportedly resigned. On 23 February 1999 Mordechai left Likud along with several other members to establish the new Israel in the Centre party. However, despite strong initial poll results, the party fared badly in the 1999 elections, winning only six seats. Nevertheless, the party joined Ehud Barak's new Labor-led government and Mordechai became Minister of Transport.
Mordechai resigned from his ministerial position in 2000 after being indicted for sexual misconduct during his military service. In March 2001 he was eventually convicted of harassing and sexually assaulting two women, receiving an 18-month suspended sentence. After his conviction, he resigned from the Knesset.