Yosef was born in the Misgav LeDakh Hospital in Jerusalem’s Old City in January 1931, along with his twin sister. His father, Yitzhak, born in Silwan, worked in the post office. His mother, Rina Malka, was from Salonika. His grandfather built Meyuhas House in Silwan, the first house of the renewed Jewish settlement in the City of David. The family was traditional, consisting of four brothers and five sisters.
He grew up in the Yemin Moshe neighborhood, attending elementary school until fourth grade, at which point he moved to the Sephardic Talmud Torah in the Old City. As a youth, he joined Beitar and then Brit Hashmona’im. At fourteen, he started working as a messenger boy for the potash company. At fifteen, he was recruited to Lehi and started putting up posters. He mistakenly lost contact with the underground for a time, but he was able to renew his combinations. To avoid suspicion, he would also train with the Hagana and do guard duty under its auspices; eventually, his commitment to Lehi made him abandon this façade.
After the announcement of the Partition Plan, he was very active with Lehi in Jerusalem, including attacks on British armored vehicles, in one of which Yoav was killed. He was part of the attempted attack on Nashashibi House in Sheikh Jarrah, blowing up Arab houses in Shahin Hill, Katamon, Lifta and Sheikh Badr. In one of these operations, his nose was injured, and he was treated by Dr. Hefner. However, his nose remains broken to this day. He was part of the capture of the Fast Hostel, where his shoulder was hit by a bullet, which did not prevent him from taking part in more operations: Notre Dame, Ein Kerem, and Operation Kedem, in which he was part of the bombing unit which tried to breach the Old City walls on the night before the second ceasefire. He was seriously wounded by a mine and narrowly avoided having his leg amputated.
When Lehi was disbanded, he joined the IDF, serving in the reserves until 1984. He fought in the Sinai War as a master sergeant, commanding a technical unit in the Armored Corps. In the Six-Day War, he participated in the liberation of Jerusalem, Gush Etzion and Hebron; in the Yom Kippur War, he received a commendation for getting abandoned Egyptian tanks stuck on the front lines out of the way. These same tanks were refurbished and used by the Israeli forces.
At first, after demobilization, he had trouble finding work; but he soon found work at the transportation cooperative HaMekasher, which eventually merged with Egged. He was both a driver and a mechanic, and later was a garage manager and manager of construction. In 1985, he retired.
In 1954, he married Varda Wolfowitz, and they lived in Jerusalem. They had three daughters, Rina, Orli and Miriam, as well as numerous grandchildren.