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Ehud Avriel Dead at 63

Funeral services were held last Friday for Ehud Avriel, the veteran diplomat and ambassador, who died here Aug. 26 at the age of 63. Avriel collapsed during a debate at Bet Hatefutzot on a film “The Last Sea” dealing with it” legal immigration to mandatory Palestine which Avriel helped to organize and direct.

Barn in Vienna in 1917, Avriel came to Palestine in 1939 and was among the founders of Kibbutz Neat Mordechai in the north of Israel. Although he remained a kibbutz member until he died, his activities on behalf of the State carried him around the globe and turned him into a sort of legendary figure. He was the Hagana representative in Istanbul, Turkey, during World War II; he directed the Hagana-sponsored “Bricha” and illegal immigration movement from devastated Europe to Israel; and he was sent to Prague, Czechoslovakia to handle the acquisition of arms that saved the Yishuv in the War of Independence in 1948.

With the establishment of the State of Israel, Avriel joined the Foreign Ministry as Israel’s first ambassador to Czechoslovakia and Hungary. He later served as ambassador to Rumania.

A close associate of the late David Ben Gurion, Avriel was instrumental in developing the rapprochement between Israel and the newly established African states. He also served as ambassador in various African countries. In the last few years he was no longer a Foreign Ministry official but continued to perform special duties, mainly in Africa, on behalf of Israel.

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