JERUSALEM - Yossi Harel, the ship commander whose attempt to bring Holocaust survivors to Palestine aboard the Exodus built support for Israel's founding, died April 26. He was 90. His daughter, Sharon, said he died of cardiac arrest at his home in Tel Aviv.
Mr. Harel commanded four expeditions that brought thousands of refugees to the shores of Palestine, his daughter said. But the best known was that of the Exodus 1947, a ship that left France in July 1947 carrying about 4,500 people - mostly Holocaust survivors and other displaced Jews - in a secret effort to reach Palestine. At the time, Britain controlled Palestine and was attempting to limit the immigration of Jews.
The British Royal Navy seized the vessel off Palestine's shores, and after a battle on board that left three people dead, turned the ship and its passengers back to Europe.
The ship's ordeal was reported worldwide, garnering sympathy for the refugees, especially since they were brought to Germany.
It inspired a fictionalized account by American writer Leon Uris and a classic 1960 film directed by Otto Preminger and starring Paul Newman.
"He was an extraordinary, unusual man, very brave, very modest, and very lucky because he was able to touch the lives of so many people," Mr. Harel's daughter said.