Yosef was born 1913 in Biyalistok Russia, to Mordechai and Yehudit. He had older twin sisters: Shoshana and Liza, and sister Malka, the youngest. He studied at a local school. The family immigrated to Israel 1926, and stayed for a while in Moshav Merchavia; they later settled in Haifa where he studied at a local school. He was an active Beitar member, and joined Hagannah B (the National Defence) 1936. When the split occured 1937, in National Defence, he joined Etzel. Yosef married Rachel Cohen 1939, another active Etzel member. Since his name was known to the CID, he adopted his wife’s maiden name, becoming Yosef Cohen. Soon enough, he became among the organization’s top ranking commanders.
In 1940, after the split in Etzel, he followed Yair and was among his close associates in Lehi. He took part in operations and instructed Commanders’ Courses. In 1941 his eldest son Moshe was born. On December 2nd he was arrested and imprisoned, first in Mazra Prison-Camp, then in Jerusalem and later Akko. In Akko seven Lehi commanders considered central and dangerous including Yosef, were held. They were exiled to Africa with the first group of 251 prisoners October 19,1944. He was imprisoned in the prison camps of Sambal Eritrea, Carthago Sudan, Eritrea again, and Gilgil Kenya – from where he was sent back to Israel after establishment of the State, with the last exiles, on July 12,1948.
He had talent for painting and worked as a painter in Haifa. He used his skill during the prisoners’ attempt to escape in Eritrea: in order to stall the prison guards’ discovery of their escape, the prisoners laid mannequins in their beds, and Yosef created faces from pieces of paper strongly resembling human faces, thus deceiving the camp’s authorities. After return, he became a paint contractor. In 1949, Yosef’s daughter Niva was born.
Yosef passed away March 4,1980. His wife Rachel passed away 1983. They are buried in the Lehi section of Holon cemetery. They left behind a son, a daughter, and seven grandchildren.