Yossi Harel

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Yossi Harel (Hebrew: יוסי הראל‎‎) (January 4, 1918 – April 26, 2008), born Yosef Hamburger, was the supervisor of the Exodus 1947 operation and a leading member of the Israeli intelligence community.[1]


Yossi Harel was born in Jerusalem in 1918. He was a sixth generation Jerusalemite. At the age of 15, he joined the Haganah. Later, he fought under Orde Wingate. Between 1945 and 1948, he played a leading role in the clandestine immigration enterprise in Palestine, commanding four Aliyah Bet ships: Knesset Israel, the Exodus, Atzma'ut and Kibbutz Galuyot. After the establishment of the State of Israel Harel studied mechanical engineering at MIT in the United States. Just before he finished his studies, Moshe Dayan, as Chief of Staff, called him back to Israel to investigate the Lavon Affair and made him head of Unit 131, an Israel Defense Forces intelligence unit.[1]

Personal life[edit]

He was survived by three children. His daughter, Sharon Harel is the third wife of Sir Ronald Cohen.[2]


Harel is the subject of a biography in Hebrew by Yoram Kaniuk, Exodus: The Odyssey of a Commander (1999), which has been translated into many languages.[3] He rose to fame after the release of the 1960 Otto Preminger film Exodus, which was based on the Leon Uris novel of the same name. His character in the novel, Ari Ben-Canaan, was portrayed by Paul Newman.[4]

In 2007 the government of Italy awarded the Exodus prize to Harel. The prize is given annually to individuals who promote peace and humanitarianism at La Spezia in Italy, where the ship Exodus was renovated.[5]


Harel died of a heart attack in Tel Aviv on April 26, 2008 at the age of 90.[1] He is buried at Kibbutz Sdot Yam, near Cesarea.[6]


  1. ^ a b c Ashkenazi, Eli (April 27, 2008). "Yossi Harel, commander of Exodus, dies at 90". Haaretz. Retrieved 2008-04-27. 
  2. ^ Joffe, Lawrence (29 April 2008). "Yossi Harel". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 November 2015. 
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on May 2, 2008. Retrieved April 26, 2008.  Profile of Kaniuk biography
  4. ^ Leker, Maya (April 26, 2008). "Yossi Harel, who commanded Jewish refugee ship Exodus in 1947, dies in Tel Aviv". Ynetnews. Retrieved 2008-04-27. 
  5. ^ Yossi Harel, 90, Commanded Historic Refugee Ship, By The Daily Telegraph, April 29, 2008
  6. ^ "Final Exodus: Yossi Harel", Dateline World Jewry, World Jewish Congress, July/August 2008

External links[edit]