NAME: Koenig, Israel

LEHI ALIAS: Shimshon

DATE OF BIRTH: August 25, 1924

Israel was born on August 25, 1924 in Wieruszów, Poland (near Lodz). The family, with its three children, made aliyah in 1934 and settled in Tel Aviv.

His father had been a bank manager in Poland, but in the Land of Israel he ran a large import company. The family was Religious Zionist, and his father, for a while, served as the director of Poalei Agudath Israel in Tel Aviv. Israel studied in the Yavneh School and in Yeshivat HaYishuv HeHadash in Tel Aviv.

In 1942, he joined Lehi, and he was soon putting up posters, disseminating materials, training with firearms, surveilling and fundraising. He was active in Dept. 6 (Intelligence), assembling an index of the Palestine Police which he hid beneath the floor tiles of his home. During operations, he was responsible for the evacuation and transfer of the wounded to medical facilities. When they attacked the British Intelligence building in Tel Aviv, a wounded fighter who was evacuated to the designated collection point refused treatment out of worry about the British. Israel managed to transfer him to a friend’s home, which was a dangerous proposition. This saved the wounded fighter from death and saved Israel from imprisonment.

In 1950, he began working for the government as a customs inspector. He also worked in social service with youths who had committed criminal acts, and then he served as the budgeting director for local authorities in the Ministry of the Interior. In 1967, he became supervisor of the Northern District. During the Six-Day War, he was in charge of the emergency economic council for the Northern Command.

Afterwards, he prepared the new outline for the Northern District. Under his direction, sixty new towns were established by the Housing Ministry and the Jewish Agency in critical areas.

Indeed, the Koenig Paper, as it came to be known, outlined how to address the needs of the Arab minority in Israel; its principles are still in force to this very day.

His recommendation was for the government to assume control of untilled land to expand Jewish towns, to accommodate a large population and to set up new commercial enterprises.

He opposed illegal construction, which was very common in the Arab community, and he followed court orders to demolish illegal structures. Due to pressure he received from senior officials not to carry out these orders, Israel retired on April 1,1986.

He completed a law degree in the 1950s, while in 1964-1965, he studied at the National Defense College. In 1970, he volunteered for Civilian Defense, becoming the personal adviser of its director, with the rank of major. He was discharged in 1986.

He married Lillian Cartuffe, a French Holocaust survivor who had been hidden as a child in a convent. She made aliyah out of Zionistic motivation and love for the homeland. After the Sinai War, in December 1957, they married. She was an obstetric nurse and a public-health nurse. She passed away in 1991. They had four children.

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