Elyakim Haetzni, West Bank Settler Leader, Dies at Age 96

One of Israel's first whistle-blowers, Haetzni left his home in Ramat Gan after the Six Day War and moved with his family to the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba

Ofer Aderet
Ofer Aderet
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Elyakim Haetzni in Kiryat Arba, in 2004.
Elyakim Haetzni in Kiryat Arba, in 2004.Credit: Pierre Turgeman
Ofer Aderet
Ofer Aderet

Elyakim Haetzni, a former Knesset member and settler leader who was among the founders of the movement for the Greater land of Israel, died on Sunday at age 96.

Haetzni was born in 1926 in Kiel, Germany, with the name Georg Bombach. In 1933, when he was in first grade, Hitler rose to power and five years later, following Kristallnacht, the 12-year-old boy immigrated to Palestine with his family. The family lived in Jerusalem and Haetzni joined the Haganah and the youth wing of the left-wing Mapai party. He completed his law studies with distinction at the Hebrew University and entered the bar in 1958.

Haetzni grew to fame in the 1950s as one of the founders of the Shurat Ha’mitnadvim, a group of socially and politically aware activists that helped immigrants then living in transit camps, and gradually emerged as one of Israel’s first anti-corruption whistleblowers.

After the Six Day War, Haetzni left his home in Ramat Gan and moved with his family to the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba. He became a member of the Yesha Council and one of its few secular leaders. In contrast to his colleagues, Haetzni was firmly opposed to the idea of a transfer of Palestinians.

A father of four, he was a member of the Tehiya party and served as a lawmaker for the party in the 12th Knesset.

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