Born in Cluj, Transylvania, Yoel Palgi (1918-1978) emigrated to Palestine in 1939 where he helped found Kibbutz Maagan. In 1944, with Hanna Szenes he was part of a group that parachuted into Hungary and Yugoslavia in an attempt to save Jews. After the World War II rescue mission, Palgi established and commanded Israel’s first paratrooper unit during the War of Independence. He was one of the founders of El Al, Israel’s national airline, of which he was deputy director from 1949-60. He headed El Al’s airlift of 200,000 Jews from Muslim countries to Israel. Palgi later served as ambassador to Tanzania and as director of construction for Kupat Holim, the Histadrut’s health insurance fund. He is buried in the Military Cemetery for Heroes in Jerusalem along with Hannah Szenes and other fallen members of the 1944 mission.
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