Adolf Eichmann's Abductors

The men who captured and transferred the top Nazi to Israel.

Avner Avrahami
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Avner Avrahami

Rafi Eitan

Three of Eichmann's captors (from left): Avraham Shalom, Rafi Eitan and Yaakov Gat.Credit: Reli Avrahami

Born 1926, Kibbutz Ein Harod. In his childhood the family (Hantman) moved to Ramat Hasharon and bought a farm there. Attended boarding school in Kibbutz Givat Hashlosha (was a classmate of Rehavam Zeevi). Served in the pre-state Palmach commandos, took part in the operation to blow up the radar station on Mount Carmel, was wounded in the battle at Malkiya, returned as Negev intelligence officer in the Yiftah Brigade and ended the War of Independence with the rank of captain. From 1950-76 served in the Shin Bet and the Mossad, from 1978-85 was adviser on terrorism to prime ministers Menachem Begin, Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Shamir, also headed Lakam (Scientific Liaison Bureau) and handled Jonathan Pollard. Afterward was chairman of Israel Chemicals and managed agricultural projects in Central America. In 2006 formed the Pensioners Party and became a minister in the government of Ehud Olmert. Currently, he says, still as head of the party, he is getting ready for the next elections.

Yaakov Gat

Born in northeast Romania, taken to a forced-labor camp during the war but emerged safely. His family, which included seven siblings, also survived. Left for Palestine at the end of 1947 via illegal immigration, was caught by the British and spent 13 months in a Cyprus detention camp. Reached Israel after the War of Independence, living in a transit camp; worked in construction, joined the Shin Bet in 1950 without a security background, after a relative recommended him for his sangfroid. First heard of Eichmann in 1958 from Isser Harel, when he was on loan to the Mossad in Paris. Left the service in 1973 and until his retirement was employed as the treasurer of a private company for 20 years.

Zvi Aharoni

Born 1921 in Frankfurt an der Oder, Germany. Immigrated to Palestine with his mother and brother in 1937, following his fathers death, and joined Kibbutz Alonim. Served in the British Army in 1943, as an interrogator of German prisoners of war in Italy. Commanded a platoon of the Carmeli Brigade in the War of Independence, fought in the battles of Mishmar Hayarden, Ramat Yohanan and Acre, ending the war as a company commander. Joined the Shin Bet at the end of 1949, reaching the post of chief interrogator. Was head of the operations branch in the Mossad, which he joined in 1961, retiring in 1970 to become a businessman. Managed the affairs of the billionaire Saul Eisenberg in China for five years. Since 1988 has been a pensioner living in the south of England.

Avraham Shalom

Born 1928, Vienna, only child, father an industrialist, mother a piano teacher. Upon the advent of the Nazis was beaten by classmates in front of his teachers. In 1938, before fleeing with his parents to Palestine, he witnessed the fate of relatives who were incarcerated for a few months in Buchenwald and Mauthausen. Arrived in Tel Aviv in 1939, attended Gymnasia Balfour, was a drummer in a jazz band that played at radio station JCPA on Hayarkon Street. After the eleventh grade (1946) joined the Palyam naval commandos, then the first battalion of the Palmach. In the War of Independence fought in the battles of Sheikh Hussein Bridge, Malkiya, Operation Dani and the Battle of Huleikath, later doing an officers course. Recruited into the Shin Bet in 1950 by Rafi Eitan, appointed commander of the organizations operations unit in Jerusalem in 1952, loaned to the Mossad (1954-57), afterward became head of the Shin Bet operations unit. In 1972, following the massacre of Israeli athletes in Munich, was appointed head of the Shin Bet protection unit. Became head of the Shin Bet in 1980. Resigned in 1986, in the wake of the Bus 300 affair, involving a cover-up of the summary execution of two bus hijackers, and was one of 11 individuals who were pardoned by President Chaim Herzog. Shalom declines to talk about that affair, though he is not reticent on others, such as the case of Gilad Shalit: They want 900 [prisoners], I would give 900 and another 1,000, including all the famous names, Abu this and Abu that, including Barghouti, without any problems he is someone who needs to grow politically this on condition that your strategy is to make peace.



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