NAME: Shabtai (Levi), Yaakov


DATE OF BIRTH: June 3, 1919

DATE OF DEATH: July 13, 1996

Yaakov was born on 3.6.1919 in Baghdad to Aziza (Ahuva) and Avraham Shevo Levi. He went by two names, Najam and Yaakov. He was one of seven sons. In 1932, at age thirteen, he made aliyah, living with his grandparents in Jerusalem. He studied in the Alliance School (Kiah) for Boys, and he continued his studies in business, but he had to stop in 1936 due to a lack of funds; he went to work to support his family. In 1934, he was recruited to the right-wing Hagana. He was active in Tzofei HaKehilla and Maccabi HaTza’ir.

In the evenings, he would take painting classes with Shlomo Bernstein, as well as drama. In 1937, he was one of the first in the IZL, and he took part in the first commanders course led by David Raziel and Hanoch Starlitz. In 1938, he founded the Mista’aravim group in the IZL, which broke the policy of restraint. For this, he received a commendation from Raziel. In 1939, he was arrested by the British, interrogated and tortured, and spent 21 day in solitary confinement in Jerusalem Central Prison, until he was transferred to Tzrifin and then to Mizra. He spent two years there. When the IZL split, he moved to Lehi.

After a failed bank robbery in Jerusalem, he moved to Tel Aviv to avoid arrest. Yair ordered him to reorganize the undercover group which operated as Arabs; he began carrying out this missing in Haifa and Tiberias. After Yair’s murder, he was ordered to disband this group until further notice. With forged documentation in the name of Yaakov Shabtai, he enlisted in the British Army in 1942, serving as an instructor in firearms and topography, as well as the unit translator and paymaster. Throughout this time, he was a wanted man as Yaakov Levi, and his picture would often appear in papers together with Yitzhak Shamir, Natan Yellin-Mor and others, with a two-hundred pound price on his head for information leading to his capture. To avoid being identified by other soldiers from the Land of Israel, he volunteered for the British units. He was discharged in 1946 as a sergeant — and, sure enough, he was immediately arrested and taken to Latrun. He was eventually released and returned to his Lehi activity. After the Bernadotte assassination, he joined the IDF. He was assigned to the unit for prisoner interrogation in Atlit. In 1951, his family made aliyah from Iraq. On 28.12.1951, Yaakov married Doris Yehezkel, and they had four children.

Yaakov was a work supervisor at the “Dagon” Israel Granaries Company in Haifa, until he retired in 1984.

His hobbies were painting, swimming in the ocean, shell artwork, and more. He was a fascinating individual, beloved by and pleasant with everyone. He invested his time in other people, volunteering for the Civil Guard, the Or LeOlam organization, and more.

He passed away on 13.7.1996, after a severe illness.