Harel, Isser 1912-2003

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HAREL, Isser 1912-2003

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born 1912, in Vitebsk, Byelorussia; died February 18, 2003, in Tiqwah, Israel. Intelligence agent, politician, and author. Harel, the former head of two Israeli intelligence agencies as well as a member of the Knesset—the Israeli parliamentary body—is often remembered for his key role in capturing Nazi Adolph Eichmann. Born Isser Halperin in the former Soviet Union and educated in Latvia, Harel moved to Palestine in 1930, where he changed his last name to Harel. He first found work on a kibbutz before World War II broke out. During the war he was a member of the underground Jewish militia, the Haganah. With the independence of Israel in 1948, he joined the Israel Defense Force as a lieutenant colonel and was made head of Shin Bet, the country's security service, where he remained until 1952. Although he became the director of Mossad, the central intelligence agency of Israel, in 1952, he still remained an influential part of Shin Bet. While director of Mossad, Harrel traveled to Argentina in search of Eichmann, who had been German Chancellor Adolf Hitler's aide and was blamed for orchestrating the "Final Solution" against the Jews. He located Eichmann, who was hiding under the name Ricardo Klement, and instead of going through formal channels for fear of alerting the former Nazi that he was being pursued, Harel decided to kidnap Eichmann instead. While Eichmann was successfully brought to trial, when Harel decided to pursue German scientists in Egypt using the same tactics, he ran into objections from his Mossad superiors and was forced to resign in 1963. In 1965 he served as an advisor to Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, and from 1969 to 1974 he served in the Knesset, retiring as a lecturer and writer. Harel was the author of several books, including the novels The Great Ruse (1971) and Jihad (1972), and several books about espionage and secret intelligence, including The House on Garibaldi Street (1975), Anatomy of Treason: The "Third Man" and the Collapse of the Israeli Spy Network in Egypt, 1954 (1980), and Security and Democracy (1989).



Reich, Bernard, and David H. Goldberg, PoliticalDictionary of Israel, Scarecrow Press (Lanham, MD), 2000.


Chicago Tribune, February 19, 2003, section 2, p. 13.

Los Angeles Times, February 19, 2003, p. B13.

New York Times, February 19, 2003, p. A25.

Times (London, England), February 20, 2003.

Washington Post, February 19, 2003, p. B6.