Yosef, son of Eliezer and Rivka, was born on December 18, 1919 in Jerusalem. On his father’s side he was a seventh-generation Jerusalemite; on his mother’s, he was a fifth-generation Hebronite. His mother was a descendant of the Baal HaTanya; her father, Rabbi Eliezerov, was the rabbi of Hebron, and at the rebbe’s behest, he went to teach Bukharan Jews the fundamentals of Judaism.
Until age fourteen, Yosef studied in Talmud Torah and Yeshivat Etz Hayim, and in Yeshivat Hebron. Then he studied in the Mizrahi Teachers Seminary. He joined Beitar at age nine, and he remained there until age seventeen. At fifteen, he began working in the Beitar camp in Zikhron Yaakov. He joined the Nationalist Hagana, but a conspiracy compelled him to leave Beitar. In 1937, as the Nationalist Hagana split, he joined IZL. He went out on missions to burn Arab fields as retribution for burning Jewish fields. Yosef participated in shootings, bombings and laying mines.
After the split, he was one of the first to join Lehi and oversaw Lehi in Jerusalem. He was part of the robbery of the Arab bank in Jerusalem, for which he was arrested, but he was soon released because the bank manager could not identify him. After that, he moved to Tel Aviv, going deep underground. In the meantime, Yair was murdered.
Yosef was then arrested and detained in the Kishleh in Jerusalem, then the Jerusalem Central Prison, then Mizra. In Mizra, they kept up their communication with the Lehi members outside, even as they transferred information which was known by the prisoners in Acre. In order to pass on this information, Yosef would eat cigarettes, which would make his eyes turn yellow, as if he was suffering from jaundice. The doctor would check him and order that he be transferred to Acre for treatment. There he was put in isolation, but he would meet with Lehi members and transmit the information. A few days later, he would be returned to Mizra. They were then sent to Latrun, and after two years’ detention, they were sent to house arrest. He continued his work for Lehi until the State was established, then he enlisted in the fight for Jerusalem under the worst of conditions, with limited firepower and manpower.
Yosef fought the Arabs over Jerusalem; they had been incited by the British.
When the State was established, he participated in all of the battles of Jerusalem at the rank of company commander. These included the capture of Katamon, the Burma Road, and more.
In his civilian life, Yosef pursued higher education and worked in business.
Yosef is married to Yedida Ophir. They have two daughters, Nira and Ricky, and three grandchildren.