Israel was born in 1921 to Menashe and Bat-Sheva, in the city of Berehove (now in Ukraine, then known as Beregovo, Czechoslovakia or by its Hungarian name, Beregszász) in Zakarpattia Oblast. He was the youngest child in a religious family of eleven souls. His father was a merchant. Israel made aliyah illegally on the ship Katina in 1938.
Israel had joined Beitar at age ten, and once he made aliyah, he joined the Beitar branch in Be’er Yaakov, eventually joining IZL. When the split occurred, he followed Yair, which meant he had to leave the Be’er Yaakov company. He moved to Netanya, and once a number of weeks had passed, he volunteered for the British Army. In April 1941, he was captured by the Germans in Greece. After four years as a prisoner of war, he was liberated by American forces and sent to England; from there, via Egypt, he returned to the Land of Israel. He renewed his ties to Lehi, and remained active within it until he enlisted in the IDF in 1948.
At first, he was a member of one of the Netanya cells. He prepared incendiary devices in his home and was involved in destroying the British telephone lines in the area. He participated in a course in ideology in Magdiel, and afterwards he was placed in charge of the youth in Gush Dan. This led him to move to Tel Aviv. In addition to meeting and discussions about ideology, he led the youth cells in putting up posters, and he was given the job of recruiting adherents in the Gush Dan area.
He became a deputy company commander of Company C of Battalion 82, participating in all of its battles in the War of Independence. He finished officers’ training and took a course for battalion commanders in the Armored Corps, where he filled various roles in its command, training and general staff. In 1970, he became the military attaché of President Zalman Shazar, a role he continued to fill for Presidents Ephraim Katzir and Yitzhak Navon. He finished his military service as a full colonel. Afterwards, he became chief of staff for President Yitzhak Navon. He also completed his academic studies, earning a law degree from Hebrew University.
In 1952, he married Bilha Yael Luntz. They had three children: Bat-Sheva, Ella and Menashe. They have numerous grandchildren. Until 1970, the family lived in Ashkelon; since then they have lived in Jerusalem. He retired in 1983.