April 27, 2008

Yossi Harel, Commander of 'Illegal' Pre-State Aliyah, Dies at 90

A great Jewish hero. Via INN:

Yossi Harel, who commanded four ships bringing Jews to Israel illegally, died at the age of 90 in Tel Aviv Saturday.

Harel assisted 24,000 Jews in reaching Israel aboard four ships, including the famed SS Exodus, between 1945 and 1948. Great Britain, which controlled the region at the time, banned Jewish immigration due to Arab pressure. The other three ships were called Knesset Yisrael (Gathering of Israel), Atzma'ut (Independence) and Kibbutz Galuyot (Ingathering of the Exiles).

The Exodus was made famous by a film of the same name.

Born in 1919, Harel was the sixth generation in his family born in Jerusalem. At the age of 15 he joined the pre-state Hagana defense force. By the age of 28 he oversaw the clandestine immigration operations bringing Jews, many of them survivors of the Holocaust, to the Holy Land.

Later on, Harel oversaw the IDF’s Unit 131, an intelligence unit that ran a spy ring in Egypt until the so-called Lavon Affair of 1954.

Harel will be buried at the Ceasaria-area kibbutz, Sdot Yam, at 5 PM Monday.