As a member of Poalei-Tsion [the Workers of Zion], he made aliyah to Israel in 1908, and worked in Judean settlements with a number of friends living in Komonah. Some time later, he moved to the Galilee with the original workers at Khavat-Kinneret. From there he went to Sigrah and was a guard on the Shava farm. At the same time he served as secretary for the Galilean branch of the Poalei-Tsion party.
On Passover eve 1909, a Christian Arab from the nearby village Kfar Kanah tried to rob a Jew traveling from Sigrah. The Jew, trying to defend himself, shot the attacker and killed him. The villagers of Kfar Kanah, hoping to avenge the blood of their fellow, ambushed Korngold near his settlement's cemetery. After trying to convince him to fight with them, with no luck, they fatally shot him. This happened on the seventh day of Passover, April 12, 1909.
The writer Rabbi Binyamin Hamanoakh, who worked with Korngold on Kinneret, wrote of him: Yisrael Korngold was a man with no illusions. He came to Israel after his temple had been destroyed in Russia. He was a man of character, solid as though made of an iron body and iron spirit. He was organized but without excesses. He never offended nor did he sarcastic anyone. He loved books, literature and language, and read at every available moment.
When the news of his death was made known to the Zionists of Krynki, they eternalized his memory by inscribing him in the Sefer Hazahav [Golden Book] of the Keren Kayemet L'Yisrael [Jewish National Fund].
Korngold's remains, among the first graves of the Jewish Guard in Israel, are buried today in Tel Chai, in the cemetery of the Hashomer [movement].
During World War II he served in the British army, fighting in Africa and Greece. In Greece, the Germans captured him. Even though the four years of his captivity weakened his body, he reenlisted in the Tsahal [Israel Defense Force]. First he served in the artillery corps, and then was moved to medical service with the rank of Sergeant. He was killed in a traffic accident in Haifa at the end of his service on November 5,1948. On that day he was brought to eternal rest in the cemetery at Nakhalat Yitskhak.
When he was five years old, his family moved to Tel Aviv, where he studied in the school for workers' children. From his youth he was eager to help with his mother's work. He excelled in his studies, and was especially talented in technology and mathematics. When he finished his primary education, his parents expected him to learn a trade, but the principal of his school got him a scholarship so that he could continue his studies in high school. There he took college mathematics and physics courses. His concise essays excelled in clarity, thought, and completeness of expression. In his final year he organized the Shedemah group with his friends from the Hanoar Ha'oved [The Working Youth] movement, with his intention being to join the group and help them fulfill their goals as chalutzim [pioneers]. The group later settled in Revivim.
While the group was hiding in his parent's house, and even though he was well known in the Gadna, their leader forbid him from participating in any of their activities. They believed that if the British or secret police had captured him they would have included his house in subsequent searches. His friends, who participated in the group, called him a coward for apparently shirking his role. However, he decided to bear the insult without justifying himself, so that he would not reveal the secret hideaway.
He studied at the Technion in Haifa after finishing high school. He completed the compulsory year of security service as a guard, and while studying at the Technion he was a private in the Students' Regiment of the Haganah.
Early in 1948 he volunteered for an infantry unit in Haifa, and took part in battle activities in and around the city. His first course was in armory, and he completed it with excellence, and was appointed the regiment's traveling arms repairer for the platoon camping near Haifa. Because of a shortage of fighters, he joined the platoon's battle operations. And later he joined in the movement to free western Galilee. On the front line while capturing Akko, he volunteered for the regiment's storming unit. In the morning of May 17, 1948, as he was returning a sniper's fire, he lay low with his friends on the roof of a tall house opposite the wall of the old city. Yehuda cautioned the machine gunner lying beside him not to stand up. But he himself was not careful and was wounded by a bullet which struck his steel helmet, and he took it home as a souvenir. Subsequently, while he was attempting to lift an abandoned machine gun onto a wall, he was struck in the head by a bullet and died.
He was brought to eternal rest in the cemetery in Nachalat-Yitskhak in Tel Aviv on May 19, 1948.
He was active in the Field Corps during World War II, enlisted in the British army and served in the Drivers Corps of the Shemidi camp. I'm not doing this for the English, he explained, and it is better that I should regret what I have done than not to enlist. He wanted to fight, but he was destined for monotonous, agonizing days in the desert. He struggled with himself to avoid becoming a soldier in his manners and speech, and not lapse into card games. He even struggled with his tendency to watch the games. In the desert, he tried to keep himself busy with cultural activities. He prepared a masquerade for Passover, often read the Bible, dreamed of his studies and especially enjoyed listening to music. He was also interested in sports, and was eager for any news that came from Israel, especially about the various political parties. Every scenic view that he saw reminded him of the homeland.
Even though he was a loner and didn't talk about himself, he regularly wrote home. He was very emotional, yet shy. Because he had upset his father in his youth, he often imagined that he was insulting other people. He tried not to bother his colleagues.
He served in such places as Libya, Tripoli, and Italy. In an accident in Benghazi, he suffered severe wounds and lay in a hospital for six months. Yet refused to be released from the army and sought a medical examination to prove his health. The war is not yet over, he asserted, and remained in the army an additional year. He was angry that volunteering for the brigades was not as rapid as he expected. In his soul he remained a man of creation, and not of war. The destruction in Greece depressed his spirit. How many men's lives were lost in this wilderness with no value? he complained. How many millions were invested in this, which could have been helpful to both sides?
In a later period, when he saw the Mandate government's relationship to the Jews, he could no longer serve in the British army. In June 1946, during the investigations, detentions and destruction in Yagur and other places, he informed his commander that if he was not released, he would not be responsible for his actions. When he was discharged, he returned to Kvutsat Geva, and was received as a member. He rejected the suggestion that he move to the city as a clerk, because there is a more immediate need for agriculturalists, and did not seek a comfortable or easy life. He was a man of obligation, fulfilling the dreams of his body and soul.
When the War of Independence broke out, he enlisted in the Field Corps, and refused to go for a Sergeant's course, explaining that there was a need for good privates. He wrote to his father after working and guarding in the Kvutsa, I am going to other places. If my letters are delayed, don't worry.
He died March 19, 1948, in battle on the Gilboa [mountain] across from the Sollel-Bone quarry. He was among the first injured, but in his usual way he did not leave his position, saying, I can still fight. He continued until he collapsed.
He was buried in the Geva cemetery.
He was drafted into service in a company of one of his regiment's brigades. Although he was his parents' only son, he rejected the associated privileges, instead asking to join a fighting unit. He participated in battles in Arabic Kfar-Saba and Latrun, in addition to the capture of Kakun, Migdal Tsedek and Rosh HaAyin.
He fell in the heavy fighting that was conducted face to face by Kula on July 17, 1948, and was buried in the cemetery in Netanya.
He went to school there completing school. He was active in the life of the village, especially in cultural matters. He wrote poems and drew sketches for his friends in the community and was beloved by all. He enlisted into the army's air force and was involved in cultural and entertainment activities. He was among the first Mister [a class of IDF plane] pilots, and when he finished his service, he reenlisted in the army as a pilot. He participated in the Sinai campaign. He died on March 10, 1958 during a military mission, and was buried in the military section of the cemetery in Kfar Vitkin.
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