NAME: Livnat, Azriel

LEHI ALIAS: Giora

DATE OF BIRTH: May 28, 1923

DATE OF DEATH: April 29, 2015

Azriel Zelig, son of Naftali Hertz and Esther Rivka, was born in Jerusalem on 28 May 1923, a fifth-generation resident of the Land of Israel. At age eleven, the family moved to Haifa, and there he continued studying in religious schools, and then in Gymnasium Bialik. His paternal grandfather made aliyah by foot from Hungary at age six, together with Azriel’s great-grandfather. This grandfather was one of the founders of Nahalat Shiva in Jerusalem, “breaching the walls.” Together with his grandmother, they were pioneers in printing in the Land of Israel.

In 1937, Azriel was an instructor in Haifa’s Beitar branch, and two years later, he joined IZL.

After Yair’s murder, he joined Lehi, and was in charge of intelligence in Haifa, until his arrest in 1944. His supervisor was Shimon Shimanski, Bar Yehoshua. Azriel was known as Giora, Ben Yaakov, Shlomi and Hermoni.

In 1942-1944, he joined his close friend, Shabtai “Zion” Drucker, in Lehi operations. Zion was later killed together with Menahem “Eliezer” Luntz.

Over Passover 5704, Azriel suffered a knee injury while he was in Merkaz HaCarmel. Three days later, he was captured, due to informers, in his parents’ home. He was interrogated by the CID and operated on in the government hospital, then sent to Acre Prison. He was placed with the “dangerous seven,” the Lehi leaders transferred there from Mizra.

Azriel was one of the 251 exiled to Africa on 19 October 1944. He spent four years in various detention camps: Sembel (near Asmara, Eritrea), Carthago (Sudan) and Gilgil (Kenya).

On 15 May 1945, he and his comrades, Amram Kehati and Moshe David Eichenbaum, carried out a daring prison break by cutting the barbed-wire fence. Azriel was shot in his hand by local soldiers who surrounded them in the mountains of Sudan, and the three were sent back to Carthago.

While imprisoned, his writings appeared in various periodicals in the Land of Israel (Gilyonot, Ha’aretz, LeDor, Atidot), including Badad, a handwritten periodical which they produced in Kenya.

Only after Israel had been established, on 12 July 1948, did they return with the last of the exiles.

Azriel went on to be a teacher, adman, manager and (recently) marketer.

He married the singer Shulamit Livnat. Their children include Minister of Education Limor Livnat; and Noam Livnat, who lives with his wife and six children in Elon Moreh (Shechem).

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