Israeli President Reuven Rivlin eulogized former Irgun fighter and Chairman of the Irgun Martyrs' Association Yair Assiskovitz following his passing on Thursday.
"Yair Assiskovich, a young Irgun fighter, a man of splendor, a master of the struggle for Israeli freedom, left us tonight and the news is very difficult for us," Rivlin said.
Assiskovitz experienced many difficulties as a soldier in the Irgun (otherwise known as Etzel, an acronym of the Hebrew initials, or in English as the National Military Organization in the Land of Israel), which was pre-state Zionist militia that both worked in tandem and had tense relations with the Haganah, the largest and main paramilitary organization of the Jewish population (called the "Yishuv") in Mandatory Palestine between 1920 and 1948.
While the Haganah was largely associated with Labor Zionism, which was the dominant tendency among the Yishuv leadership during this time, later evolving into the Mapam party of David Ben-Gurion and afterwards the modern Israeli Labor Party, the Irgun was ideologically linked with Revisionist Zionism developed by Ze'ev Jabotinsky, whom were considered more militant in fighting British rule.
Later led by former Prime Minister Menachem Begin, the Irgun would eventually evolve politically after the 1948 War of Independence into the Herut party, followed by Gahal and finally, the modern day Likud party.
Assiskovitz himself was abducted and severely tortured during a tense period known as 'The Saison,' from 1944 to 1945, when the Haganah was ordered by pre-state Yishuv officials to combat the then-Irgun insurgency against British mandate interests and officials in Palestine due to pressure from the UK.
The late Irgun fighter, following his involvement in the 1948 War, would become one of the founders of the IDF's Department of Casualties, where he helped in ensuring medical treatments for the wounded and help for their families. As Chairman of the Irgun Martyrs' Association, Assiskovitz was tasked with keeping alive the memories of Irgun underground fighters.
"On this sad evening of parting from the one I had considered as a big brother, I also say goodbye to one of the last giants that still lived among us," Rivlin said in reference to the pre-state pioneers.
"[He was] a representative of a generation that founded and carried the torch of faith and hope in the light of which the State of Israel was established, and in the light of which we continue to walk even today.""His memory will be engraved on our hearts. My deepest condolences to his dear family," Rivlin concluded.