Yosef was born in Jerusalem on March 15,1930 to Aharon and Sarah Cohen. He had two brothers and five sisters. He grew up in a traditional family, educated to love Torah, Jewish tradition, the Jewish people and the Land of Israel. He studied in a Talmud Torah in the Beit Yisrael neighborhood and in Jerusalem’s Tachkemoni School.
He felt acutely the need to enlist in the cause of liberating the Land of Israel, and thus he joined the Palmach at age sixteen. He was sent for training in Kibbutz Revivim in the Negev. The journey required bribing a British official. After seven months of training and maneuvers, Yosef was sent back to the Jerusalem area to assist in the fight against the Arabs.
In 1947, Yosef was sent, with his comrades, to the phosphate factory in Sodom, at the Dead Sea. Under cover of being factory workers, they were sent to protect it from Arabs in the area. In one of these attacks, one of his comrades in arms was killed and transported to be buried in Jerusalem.
During the War of Independence, he was sent for training to defend Jerusalem. On 12.4.1948, Yosef’s father, Aaron Cohen, was killed by an Arab sniper near the Mandelbaum Gate. His father’s death made him join the ranks of Lehi.
He was sent to Lehi’s Eldad camp in Sheikh Badr and Dror camp in the Talbiyeh neighborhood. Camp Dror was used by Lehi for training, maneuvers and various operations, including attacking the villages of Beit Iksa and Der Yassin, fighting for the Old City, and more.
In September 1948, after the Bernadotte assassination, Yosef was arrested with many other Lehi members. As they were being transferred to Jaffa Prison, the Lehi members managed to overpower the British police escort and fled. After two days, they managed to contact Lehi members in Tel Aviv, who told them to join the IZL members who were enlisting in the IDF. In this framework, Yosef was transferred to Kiryat Meir, where he was inducted. He returned to Jerusalem as an IDF soldier.
Yosef fought in all the wars of Israel, including decades of reserve duty. He was proud of all he did to redeem the people of Israel in the Land of Israel.
After the State was established, Yosef married Zehava Gershon, and they had four daughters and a son. Yosef spent his entire life developing the land, contributing to construction and settlement throughout Israel.