David was born in Lutsk in eastern Poland (now Ukraine) in 1925; his father was Yitzhak. David received a high-school education as well as a nationalist Hebrew education at home. He arrived in the Land of Israel at the height of World War II, in 1944, after four years of wandering through a Europe consumed by the horrors of the Holocaust and war. He started working in a clerical position in a diamond-polishing factory in Netanya, and quickly joined Lehi to take part in the fight against the British occupiers.
When the War of Independence erupted, he was involved in providing arms and materiel for Lehi fighters in Jerusalem. When Lehi was disbanded and joined the IDF, in late May 1948, David enlisted and ended up in Battalion 82 of the 8th Brigade, taking part in Operation Danny, Operation Yoav and Operation Horeb.
In the last of these, after two days of fighting (December 26,1948), Auja al-Hafir (now Nitzana) was captured. David’s company fought on both days. The target was very well-protected, and Company 89/A was sent to assist, without any planning ahead of time. All they were told was: “The Egyptians are fleeing. Get in there!” This company suffered heavy losses, including the company commander (Blond Dov) and the platoon commander. Six fighters were killed and many more injured.
On the second day, when Auja al-Hafir was captured, two other companies from Battalion 89, in addition to David’s company, took part in the battle, but David was killed in action. At first, he was buried in Huldah, but on July 20,1949, he was re-interred at the military cemetery in Nachalat Yitzhak.
An unknown solider is one who cannot be identified. His personal details are available somewhere, but there is no way to tie them to a certain body. Sometimes, by a stroke of luck, even after many years, a connection can be made to identify the corpse. Then the soldier is no longer unknown.
These are not the anonymous soldiers Yair wrote about. Underground fighters are doubly anonymous, as among their fellow fighters, their civilian identity is unknown. At the same time, among civilian friends, they are not known to be fighters. This is true as long as they are not caught during wartime or afterwards, as then their identities are unified once again.
David is an absolutely anonymous soldier. The details of his biography are painfully sparse: his personal name, his father’s name, his city of birth, his year of birth and his education. Even his original family name is unknown, as in the Land of Israel he adopted the name Yaakovi to honor his father, who had perished in the Holocaust. One image of him still exists, as published in the Ministry of Defense’s Yizkor memorial album of 1956, but no one has been able to shed more light on his character and identity.
May this page be a monument to his character.