Born David Rozenson in Smarhon’ (now in Grodno Region, Belarus), Vilnius in the Russian Empire, he immigrated with his family at the age of three to Mandatory Palestine, where his father became a Hebrew teacher at a Tel Aviv elementary school. 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. When the Irgun was established, he was one of its first members, and displayed outstanding military skills.
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 especially marked by violence against Arabs, including a sequence of marketplace bombings. Raziel worked with Avraham Stern and Efraim Ilin.
On 17 May 1941 he was sent, with three of his comrades, including Ya'akov Meridor, to Iraq 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 bomb killed him and the British officer with him near an oil deposit in Habbaniyah. Meridor returned to Palestine and took over command of the Irgun.
In 1955 his remains were exhumed and transferred to Cyprus, and again in 1961 to Jerusalem's Mount Herzl military cemetery. His sister, Esther Raziel-Naor, was later a member of the Knesset for Herut, the party founded by Irgun leader Menachem Begin.
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.
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- Daniel Levine: The Birth of the Irgun Zvai Leumi. Jerusalem: Gefen Publishing House Ltd., 1991. ISBN 965-229-071-8.