NAME: Swat, Tzvi

LEHI ALIAS: Shachar

DATE OF BIRTH: 1921

DATE OF DEATH: 1993

Tzvi was born in the town of Byteń in what is now Belarus, the oldest of five children. As was common at that time, he studied in cheder for his Jewish education. At sixteen, he heard a speech by Zeev Jabotinsky in Warsaw and decided to make aliyah. He joined Beitar and began his preparations. In 1939, he left, not knowing that he was escaping shorty before the Holocaust would separate him from his family forever. He made aliyah illegally on the Mapilim ship Parita. The journey was difficult, with the British blockade forcing Tzvi and his companions to take over the ship to break the blockade and make their way to the beaches of Tel Aviv. However, they were captured by the British and detained in Atlit.

Tzvi joined the British Army, and in order not to serve in a support capacity, he volunteered for a commando unit, in which he served in Habash, Egypt and on the frontlines of the western desert. After the invasion of Italy, he was sent on special missions behind enemy lines in Albania and alongside Tito’s partisans in Yugoslavia. Along the Po River in Italy, on a patrol, Tzvi stepped on a mine, on 14.4.1945, and both his legs were blown off.

He joined Lehi and was active in a number of missions, including the Moyne assassination in Egypt (this was while he was still serving in British Army). When he returned to the Land of Israel, he married Ruth Seidberg, and he continued his underground activities wholeheartedly, despite his disability. He was part of the Barclays Bank robbery in Tel Aviv, blowing up the Haifa Railway and more.

When the War of Independence began, he enlisted in the IDF in the 8th Brigade, serving as an operations officer and an adviser for commando missions to Yitzhak Sadeh and Moshe Dayan. He was part of the capture of the Lod Airport, as well as the liberation of Lod and Ramleh.

Tzvi never saw himself as disabled; in 1950, he founded a farm, Deganim, in the north of the Negev (currently the location of Yeshivat Mercaz Shapira). At the farm, the main crops were corn and cotton, and they also raised cattle.

In 1967, his autobiography, In the Paths of the Commando, was published.

In 1970, Ruth and Tzvi left their home in the center of country and moved down to Nuweiba in the Sinai. There they built their home, next to a gas station. The Bedouin residents of the area received them warmly. Tzvi and Ruth had two daughters, Debby and Nona, and three sons, Micky, Rami and Yair, as well as seven grandchildren.

The Yom Kippur War hit the family hard. Their three sons were all armored commanders. Two fought and were injured, while Yair, the youngest, was killed in action in the Golan Heights.

Tzvi, last survivor of his family, commando and underground fighter, never really recovered from this loss. He passed away on 8 Marheshvan 5754, 22.10.1993.

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