Obituary: Matityahu Shmuelevitz
Wednesday 06 December 1995
Matityahu Shmuelevitz won fame or notoriety not as a leading aide of the former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin but as a daring leading member of Lehi Freedom Fighters. The Stern Gang, as their opponents called them, were more extreme even than Begin's Irgun in the underground fight against the British Mandatory government of Palestine, and Shmuelevitz became a notorious figure in the eyes not only of the British but of the official leaders of the Yishuv, the Jewish community, such as David Ben- Gurion.
Inspired by the charismatic Abraham Stern, shot dead by the British in 1942, Lehi were ruthless in their activities and did not shrink from assassinations, as they showed when in 1944 they gunned down the first Lord Moyne in Cairo, a deed which horrified the Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann and the Zionist Winston Churchill.
Though not prepared to accept Lehi's tactics, Begin was keen to co-operate with the group, whom he described as partners, in attacks on the British targets. He also offered to save the life of Shmuelevitz, who had first been imprisoned by the British in 1940, escaped in 1943, but was wounded and recaptured a year later. When Shmuelevitz was sentenced to death for firing at a British officer and carrying arms, Begin proposed a joint plan to attack the Jerusalem Central Prison to free him. The plan was about due to be carried out when the death sentence was commuted.
Shmuelevitz and his group participated with Begin's Irgun in the most daring of all their joint operations - the storming of Acre jail in May 1947. Many of the attackers were wounded or killed after the withdrawal. Begin prints in his book The Revolt (1949) Shmuelevitz's description of the disaster that befell the group and also the accusation that British troops shot wounded men.
Like another leader of Lehi, Yitzhak Shamir, who went on to become Prime Minister, Shmuelevitz became a respected member of Israeli society. After joining the Likud party, he became a devoted and close aide to Begin, its leader, in the final years of his life.
Shmuelevitz's last activity was far removed from war. He was playing chess when he collapsed.
educationTo mark International Women's Day, Sarah Brown on how charities have brought proper joined-up thinking to the delivery of education
Lammily: Barbie-like doll hits Kickstarter fundraising target in a day
12 Years A Slave star Lupita Nyong’o on racism in beauty: 'Every day I woke up hoping my skin was a little lighter'
Belle Knox: How a porn star student from Duke University became bigger than Justin Bieber
Oscar Pistorius trial: Neighbour feared South African athlete would use gun that killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp to shoot himself
Top 10 most expensive cities in the world: Singapore named costliest place to live – but what about London?
Apple's Tim Cook: Business isn’t just about making profit
Thousands of young people forced to go without food after benefits wrongly stopped under 'draconian' new sanctions regime
Ukraine crisis: New navy chief 'defects' and surrenders Crimean HQ as Putin claims ultranationalists forced intervention
Ukraine crisis: Russia dismisses '3am ultimatum' as 'total nonsense'
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
If you're horrified by a flame-roasted dog, you should be shocked at a hog roast
- 1 The future of sex: The first female condoms were derided, mistrusted and shunned - but will their modern counterparts catch on?
- 2 South African rhino finally put down after roaming Kruger park for days with horn hacked off and bullet in brain
- 3 Study suggests that 'gaydars' are real - at least for women
- 4 Man stabbed with Legend of Zelda Master Sword in serious condition
- 5 First clip of Outkast's Andre 3000 in Jimi Hendrix biopic All Is By My Side emerges
Competitive: Nielsen: We are seeking an enthusiastic intern with a passionate ...
£35000 - £45000 per annum: Charter Selection: Charter Selection are currently ...
Plus benefits: Sherrards Solicitors LLP: Sherrards is an equal opportunities e...