NAME: Cohen, Aaron

LEHI ALIAS: Avshalom

DATE OF BIRTH: 1913

DATE OF DEATH: February 11, 1987

Aaron was born to Yona and Yehiel in Aden in 1913. In 1922, the family moved to Cairo. Aaron studied in the Alliance (Kiah) School. In 1926, the family tried to make aliyah, but they were turned back at El Qantara. In 1928, Aaron managed to get to the Land of Israel with his mother. In 1934, he organized aliyah from Egypt on a cargo ship. He lived in Kerem HaTeimanim, joined Beitar and worked in construction. He then joined the Hagana. In 1937, he moved on to IZL and was assigned to the intelligence division, translating documents from Arabic. He also took part in retributive attacks on Arab rioters during the 1936-1939 riots, particularly on the border between Tel Avi and Jaffa. In August 1938, dressed as an Arab, he set up a bomb in Jaffa which wounded many, as retribution for Arab attacks on Jewish civilian. He was not motivated by hatred of Arabs, but rather by the justness of his actions and the need to fulfill the organization’s mission.

In 1935, he married Ziona Yefet.

Aharon was arrested at an IZL course in Mishmar HaYarden and was sentenced, along with his comrades, to a decade in prison — first in Acre, then in Mizra. While he was incarcerated, IZL split and Aharon joined Lehi. He was released in 1942, but he could find no way to link up with the underground, as this was the lowest period of Lehi, right after Yair’s death. After Yitzhak “Michael” Shamir escaped from Mizra, Aaron was able to make contact and returned to full duty. He recruited members and arranged refuge for fugitives, contacting Arabs to purchase firearms and explosives. He took an advanced officers’ course.

In July 1947, he went to Egypt and took over the youth recruiting branch, producing propaganda and smuggling Jews into the Land of Israel. He tried leaving Egypt for Italy when the State was established, but he was arrested at the Port of Alexandria under suspicion of espionage. He was court martialed, but his guilt was not proven, and so he was sentenced to only a year-and-a-half in prison and a fine. Still, even after his sentence had been completed, the authorities refused to release him “until Palestine is free.” He began a hunger strike, until he was freed in May 1950 and allowed to go to Italy. He stayed in a camp for those making aliyah in Brindisi, and in June 1950 he arrived in the Land of Israel. In 1950, he went abroad on a security mission, returning after two years. After he returned, he worked for the Tel Aviv Municipality until he retired. Afterwards, he worked for the Brinks company, transporting valuable items.

Aaron died on February 11,1987, leaving a wife, daughter, two sons and numerous grandchildren.

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