Eliyahu was one of the Beitar members in Haifa. His mother, Sonia Rappaport, was a famous dentist in Haifa, and her house was a place of meeting and refuge for Eliyahu’s comrades throughout the years, even after he was arrested. Eliyahu was a voracious reader who loved poetry, sometime writing prose of his own. He was an expert on Russian literature and influenced by it. He studied, read and taught Bible.
During the 1936-1939 riots, he participated in the IZL retributive attacks against Arab terror. After a bomb went off and killed Arabs in Haifa, Eliyahu was grabbed by Hagana men on 25 July 1938. He was interrogated and threatened. After a few days, he was handed over to the British police, who tortured him severely. From that point on, he suffered horrible back pain.
The IZL saw a serious precedent in “the first instance of the abduction of a Jewish fighter.” In response, a young Hagana member was abducted and imprisoned by the IZL, until it was known that Eliyahu was alive and in police custody. The IZL declared that it would not “allow Jews to be seized and handed over to the royal gallows.” Indeed, the Hagana avoided this tactic for the next few years.
Jabotinsky responded to this himself, writing about in the newspaper HaMedina.
Eliyahu was kept in administrative detention for a year. He was detained in Acre Prison, in Tzrifin and in Mizra. After he was freed from Mizra and the IZL split, he joined Lehi, despite the fact that the police had him under house arrest.
Yair’s murder and the pursuit of Lehi members depressed him greatly. He wanted to go out on operations. He hid for a month in one of the settlements. Then his mother, whom he loved and admired greatly, was arrested, and Eliyahu turned himself in. He was imprisoned in Mizra, then Latrun, then Acre Prison, then back in Latrun. While he was imprisoned in Mizra, he avoided underground organizations. Despite all of this, he was included in the first group of 251 deported to Africa on 19 October 1944, where he was held in Sembel (near Asmara, Eritrea), Carthago (Sudan), and back in Eritrea.
While in detention, his back pain grew worse. His mother’s efforts to get him released worked, and on 17 May 1946, he was flown from Eritrea back home.
The Histadrut found him a job on the custodial staff on Hadassah Hospital, then as a teacher. He was happy with his new work in education. However, the torture and imprisonment of five years, in Israel and abroad, left their mark on him. He died on September 1,1947.