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.
- 1 Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
- 2 Frank Lampard's face drops when Holly Willoughby introduces him as a 'Man City legend'
- 3 UK weather: Britain braced for snow as arctic air mass moves in
- 5 General Election 2015: Stephen Hawking says he will vote Labour
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
Andrew Lloyd Webber: Phantom of the Opera writer mocked after issuing a warning about Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon
General election 2015: Labour will toughen hate crimes legislation surrounding Islamophobia
HSBC review into moving headquarters from UK 'underway'
£50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, Stock...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join one of...
£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events busi...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This privately-owned company designs and manuf...