Tzvi was born on May 12,1924 in a small town in what was then Czechoslovakia, to Yitzhak and Yaffa. In 1933, when he was nine, he made aliyah with his family, and he was sent to study in Meir Shfeya Youth Village, near Zikhron Yaakov. During the 1936 riots, he was recruited to the Hagana and helped protect the Yishuv. After a few days, he left the institution and moved to Tel Aviv to help his mother, who was struggling to care for the family. This led to his disassociation from the Hagana, which he had connected with by way of his school. He would take any job available; he was not choosy. Yaakov soon joined Lehi. He was assigned to the operations division and trained in firearms. He soon was sent on missions against British forces.
After the Partition Plan was announced, the Arabs attacked the Yishuv, and Tzvi set out on retributive operations, as well as helping the Jewish neighborhoods defend themselves, e.g. at the Tel Aviv-Jaffa border, where the Lehi units would attack and bomb the sniper positions used to fire on Tel Aviv. Tzvi was the demolitions officer in the attack on Abu Kabir, where his leg was severely injured.
When the IDF was created, Tzvi joined, like all of his Lehi comrades, and he was attached to the raiding Battalion 89, under Moshe Dayan, in the 8th Brigade.
Tzvi was a platoon commander in Company A, under Yaakov “Blond Dov” Granek. Tzvi distinguished himself with his daring, courage, decisiveness and thinking outside the box. He led his troops into every battle Battalion 89 fought.
Tzvi was part of the storming of Auja el-Hafir with his platoon on December 26,1948. Dov and others fell in this battle. Tzvi’s halftrack was directly hit by a Projector, Infantry, Anti-Tank (PIAT) Mk I, and he and three of his troops were killed. He was first buried in Halutza, but later he was re-interred at the Nahalat Yitzhak Cemetery in Tel Aviv.