Raziel, David

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RAZIEL, DAVID (1910–1941), commander of the *Irgun Ẓeva'i Le'ummi (iẒl). Born in Smorgon, near Vilna, Raziel was taken to Ereẓ Israel at the age of three by his parents. From an early age he displayed literary ability, writing essays and plays on biblical themes. During the 1929 Arab riots he joined the *Haganah, becoming one of the first members of the iẒl, which seceded from the Haganah in 1931. He soon became known as a gifted instructor and leader and produced manuals of military instruction. About a year after the first split in iẒl (1937), he became commander of the organization, and during that tense year led it in its reprisal activities against the Arabs. On May 19, 1939, he was captured by the British authorities, and sent to a prison camp, from which he was released at the end of October as a result of the outbreak of World War ii and the iẒl's readiness to cooperate in the war effort against the Axis. He continued to serve as commander of the iẒl and leader of *Betar in Palestine even after the June 1940 split in iẒl. On May 17, 1941, in cooperation with British Army intelligence, he led a group of iẒl members to Ḥabbāniyya, Iraq, to sabotage the oil depots on the outskirts of Baghdad, which were serving the German Luftwaffe; but on May 20, in a German bombing attack, the car in which he was traveling was hit and he and a British officer were killed. Buried in the British military cemetery at Ḥabbāniyya, his remains were transferred to Nicosia, Cyprus, in 1955 and finally interred on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem in 1961. Ramat Raziel, a moshav in the Judean Mountains, is named after him.


S. Katz, Days of Fire (1968), index; Jabotinsky Institute in Israel, David Raziel (Heb., 1956); D. Niv, Ma'arekhot ha-Irgun ha-Ẓeva'i ha-Le'ummi, 3 (1967), index; Dinur, Haganah, 2 pt. 3 (1963), index.

[David Niv]