Israel Shochat was born in 1886 in Lyskovo, Poland (now a part of Belarus). As a child, he had tutors for Hebrew and Russian. At age 18, he was involved in a Jewish defence group and in Poale Zion. He went to Germany to study agronomy but left his studies after only three months and emigrated to Palestine with his brother, Eliezer, in 1904. They worked as field hands in the fields and orchirds of Petah Tikva. He moved to Rishon LeZion to work in the winery. There Israel met Alexander Zaïd and shared with him his radical socialist ideas. Zaid received them enthusiastically and declared "I'm with you, for life or death, let's start as of now!" In Rishon LeZion, he suffered the first bout of fever, which was to plague him for the remainder of his life.
Israel moved to Jerusalem to persuade the yeshivot leaders to join the efforts to create a national workforce. His attempts failed. To support himself, he shined shoes at Jaffa Gate. As a result of ill health, he was forced to give up manual labour and worked as Israel Belkind's assistant. He became interested in the Circassians living in Palestine, as an example of how a small minority could preserve its identity and pride in an often hostile environment. The key for Shochat was that they cultivated their land and protected it with their own hands.
Along with Israel Giladi, Alexander Zaid and Mendel Portugali, he convinced some of the Jewish farmers to let them help with guarding the fields. It was a modest start. Israel represented Poalei Zion in the Zionist Congress of 1907, which took place in the Hague in Netherlands. He was his party's first representative from Palestine. He was unable to present his idea to the assembly and in a private conversation, Menachem Ussishkin told Israel that he was much too young to succeed in achieving the goal of a national defence. Yitzhak Ben-Zvi, a representative from the United States, was receptive and they travelled back to Palestine together, working along the way.
In 1907, Israel was one of the 10 people who, in Yitzhak Ben-Zvi's Jaffa apartment, founded Bar-Giora, a clandestine organisation which sought to create an armed Jewish force. It took its name from one of the great Jewish rebels against the Romans. He was part of the collective at Sejera and led the watchmen there.
Along with Manya Shochat, Israel was one of the founders of Hashomer. He also founded the Work Legion, an organization meant to do the same thing for agriculture that Hashomer did for security. Being a Russian national, the Ottoman Turks exiled him from Palestine to Antalya, Turkey.
After the war, he worked the land in Kfar Giladi, but soon became involved in Gdud HaAvoda and in organizing the defence of the Galilee. During the riots of 1921, he took an active part in defending Tel Aviv and Jaffa.
In the years 1921–26, Israel was on the Jewish National Council. He was also instrumental in forming Hapoel. In the 1930s, after a long conflict with the Histadrut, he retired from political life. He died in 1962 and is buried in Kfar Giladi alongside his wife.
- "Anshei Hashomer" Gershon Gera
- "Anshei Hashomer Bechayeihem Ubemotam" (Members of Hashomer in life and in death) Gershon Gera.