David Raziel

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David Raziel
Flickr - Government Press Office (GPO) - David Raziel.jpg
Native name
דוד רזיאל
Born(1910-11-19)November 19, 1910
Smargon, Russian Empire
DiedMay 20, 1941(1941-05-20) (aged 30)
Habbaniyah, Iraq

David Raziel (Hebrew: דוד רזיאל‎; 19 November 1910 – 20 May 1941) was a leader of the Zionist underground in British Mandatory Palestine and one of the founders of the Irgun.[1]


David Rozenson (later Raziel) was born in Smarhon’ in the Russian Empire. In 1914, when he was three, his family immigrated to Ottoman Palestine, where his father taught at Tachkemoni, a religious school in Tel Aviv. During World War I, the family was exiled to Egypt by the Turks due to their Russian citizenship. They returned to Mandatory Palestine in 1923.

After graduation from Tachkemoni, he studied for several years at Yeshivat Mercaz HaRav in Jerusalem. He was a regular study partner of Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook, son and ideological successor to the Rosh Yeshiva and Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook.[2]

When the 1929 Hebron massacre broke out, he joined the Haganah in Jerusalem, where he was studying philosophy and mathematics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

His sister, Esther Raziel-Naor, became a member of the Knesset for Herut, the party founded by Irgun leader Menachem Begin.

Military career[edit]

When the Irgun was established, he was one of its first members. In 1937 he was appointed by the Irgun as the first Commander of Jerusalem District and a year later, Commander in Chief of the Irgun. His term as leader was marked by violence against Arabs, including a sequence of marketplace bombings.[3] Most of those attacks were in response to Arab violence.[4] Raziel worked with Avraham Stern, Hanoch Kalai, and Efraim Ilin.

On 17 May 1941 he was sent to Iraq with three of his comrades, including Ya'akov Meridor and Jacob Sika Aharoni,[5] on behalf of the British army to help defeat the Rashid Ali al-Gaylani pro-Axis revolt in the Anglo-Iraqi War. On 20 May a Luftwaffe plane strafed the car in which he was travelling near Habbaniyah, killing him and a British officer.[6][7] Meridor returned to Palestine and took over command of the Irgun, while Jacob Sika Aharoni commanded the life-risking mission that lead to the British entry to Iraq and the saving of the Jewish community during the Farhud.

In 1955 his remains were exhumed and transferred to Cyprus, and again in 1961 to Jerusalem's Mount Herzl military cemetery.


Ramat Raziel, a moshav in the Judaean Mountains, is named after Raziel, as well as many streets in Israel bearing his name in commemoration. The Israel postal service issued a stamp in his honor. There is a high-school in Herzliya named after him.[8]


  1. ^ "David Raziel". The Etzel Website. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  2. ^ HaKohen, Yehuda (8 May 2018). "The tragic legacy of David Raziel, commander of the Etzel". Arutz Sheva. Retrieved 16 August 2018.
  3. ^ Yehuda Bauer (2001). From Diplomacy to Resistance: A History of Jewish Palestine, 1935–1945. Varda Books. p. 14. During the period of command over Etzel by Moshe Rosenberg and David Raziel, a great many assaults (some of them en masse) were carried out against Arab bystanders and shoppers: men, women, and children (November 1937-July 1939).
  4. ^ Heller, Joseph (2012-12-06). The Stern Gang: Ideology, Politics and Terror, 1940-1949. Routledge. ISBN 9781136298943.
  5. ^ Nir Mann (April 22, 2010). "A life underground". Haaretz. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  6. ^ Mattar, Philip (1984). "Al-Husayni and Iraq's quest for independence, 1939-1941". Arab Studies Quarterly: 267–281.
  7. ^ Reeva, Simon (2004). Iraq Between the Two World Wars: The Militarist Origins of Tyranny. Columbia University Press. p. 207, n.16. ISBN 9780231132152.
  8. ^ "David Raziel". The complete guide to Israeli postage stamps from 1948 onward. Boeliem. Archived from the original on 2016-03-10. Retrieved 2010-11-07.

Further reading[edit]

  • Daniel Levine: The Birth of the Irgun Zvai Leumi. Jerusalem: Gefen Publishing House Ltd., 1991. ISBN 965-229-071-8.