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 East 17 bandmember Brian Harvey in 'very desperate situation’
- 2 Germanwings plane crash: Video shows co-pilot Andreas Lubitz learning to fly as a teenager
- 3 Vladimir Putin says Russia will fight for the right of Palestinians to their own state
Vladimir Putin says Russia will fight for the right of Palestinians to their own state
Germanwings crash: Captain of doomed plane was only 'on board because he changed job to spend more time with his children'
Ohio Democrat Teresa Fedor speaks out during abortion debate to reveal she has been raped – and is interrupted by laughter from Republicans
Jeremy Clarkson 'could be given minder' ahead of a potential Top Gear return
The male and female faces thought to be the epitome of beauty, according to British people
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Street preacher quoting from the Bible fined for calling homosexuality an 'abomination'
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
£35000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This dynamic outsourced contact...
£19000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An excellent opportunity for a ...
£28000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group HR Advisor with an established...
£40 - 50k (DOE) + Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking a HR Manager / HR Genera...