Yaakov was born on July 26, 1926 in Jerusalem to his parents, who came to the Land of Israel from Monastir, Yugoslavia (now Bitola, Republic of [North] Macedonia). His father ran a grocery store while his mother was a homemaker. Yaakov studied in the Alliance School, joining the youth movement Degel Zion at age fifteen.
In late 1942, at age sixteen, he joined the British Army, serving in the Engineering Corps and being trained in the construction and demolition of bridges. He also learned how to prepare mines, bombs and all kinds of explosive devices. In Egypt, he used his position to smuggle firearms and explosives to the Land of Israel. In late 1943, while still in the British Army, he joined Lehi. He participated in many operations with daring and courage.
In late 1946, he was given the mission of getting a truck bomb into the army base at Sarafand (Tzrifin) and blowing up the command headquarters. As a driver at the base, he was able to drive an army truck, containing two hundred kilograms of explosives, into the camp and park it by the headquarters. He hit the detonator and fled. The explosion killed forty British soldiers and officers.
In another operation, on January 12,1947, he got a car bomb with four hundred kilograms of explosives into the Central Police Station of Haifa. This explosion destroyed an entire wing of the building, killing and wounding dozens of police.
The next operation was an attack on the Haifa Oil Refinery, as a response to the deportation. The target was an Anglo-Iraqi company. Goel was once again in command, with two fighters assisting him: Tzefanya “Gilad” Shvili and Albert “Hayim” Shemesh.
In late March 1947, after surveying the area, the three set out, disguised as Arab railway workers, to Neve Shaanan. When it got dark, they slipped into the refinery, passing one roadblock after another. After getting through the third fence, Goel and Gilad made it to the tanks, where Goel set up the bombs and set their timers. As he finished his work, they withdrew without incident.
Exactly on time, the first detonation was heard, lighting up the sky. Then a second and third explosion followed. The tongues of flame licked and ignited other tanks, eleven in total, which burned for more than two weeks. The damage was massive. Eleven million gallons of oil were consumed. The British Empire had failed to protect its most precious resource, petroleum. The damage was one million pounds.
In 1948, Yaakov joined the IDF and served in the Engineering Corps.
In 1950, he married Shula Mehulal, former IZL member, and they had two daughters, Dorit and Yael. They now have six grandchildren.
Yaakov worked at the Shemen company in sales, until he retired.
He passed away on April 10,2001, and was buried in Holon in the Lehi section.
Mazal eulogized him thusly: “Goel was one of the bravest Lehi fighters, and he authorized some of the most glorious chapters in the annals of the Freedom Fighters of Israel’s war of liberation.”
Eitan Haber of Yedioth Ahronoth wrote: “The man participated in almost every operation, always at the frontlines. Of him and his ilk the poets wrote: ‘He cast his life aside.’”