Matan Vilnai (Hebrew: מתן וילנאי, born 20 May 1944) is an Israeli politician and a former Major General in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). He is currently Minister for Home Front Defense and a member of the Knesset for Independence.
Vilnai was born in Jerusalem in 1944. His father was Prof. Zev Vilnay, a pioneer in the sphere of Israeli geography and Land of Israel studies, from whom he inherited a love of nature and hiking. He was drafted into the Israel Defense Forces in 1966, serving in the Paratroopers Brigade and the elite reconnaissance unit Sayeret Matkal. He was deputy commander of the assault force in Operation Thunderbolt, also known as the Entebbe Raid, to free Jewish and Israeli passengers taken hostage by Palestinian and German terrorists after their Air France plane was hijacked to Entebbe, Uganda. Vilanai led the assault team into the airport building, while another team secured the outside. As a major general, Vilnai was the head of the Manpower Directorate, as well as the Deputy Chief of Staff.
Today Vilnai lives in Mevasseret Zion and is a married father of three.