Yitzhak Shamir (born Icchak Jeziernicky; October 22, 1915 – June 30, 2012) was an Israeli politician and the seventh Prime Minister of Israel, serving two terms, 1983–84 and 1986–1992. Before the establishment of the State of Israel, Shamir was a member of Lehi, and one of its commanders after Avraham Stern was killed. After the establishment of the State of Israel he served in the Mossad between 1955-65, a Knesset Member, a Knesset Speaker and a Foreign Affairs Minister. Shamir was the country's third longest-serving prime minister after David Ben-Gurion and Benjamin Netanyahu.
Icchak Jeziernicky (later Yitzhak Shamir) was born in the predominantly Jewish village of Ruzhany Grodno province, Russian Empire (now Belarus), the son of Perla and Shlomo, owner of a leather factory. Those close to Shamir have noted that, "he often recalls his childhood and youth in Belarus." Shamir later moved to historical Poland and studied at a Hebrew high school network in Białystok, Poland. As a youth he joined Betar, the Revisionist Zionist youth movement. He studied at the law faculty of Warsaw University, but cut his studies short to immigrate to what was then the British Mandate of Palestine. Shamir once stated that "every Pole sucked anti-Semitism with his mother's milk." The comment caused controversy within Poland as being slanderous and libelous.
His parents and two sisters died during the Holocaust. Shamir claimed his father was killed just outside his birthplace in Ruzhany by villagers who had been his childhood friends, after he had escaped from a German train transporting Jews to the death camps. However this story has never been confirmed by other sources. His mother and a sister died in the concentration camps and another sister was shot dead. Shamir once told Ehud Olmert that when his father living under Nazi occupation had been informed that the extermination of the Jews was imminent, his father had replied that "I have a son in the Land of Israel, and he will exact my revenge on them".
According to an obituary, he had dreamed of living in the Land of Israel since he was a boy, and felt immediately at home when he would eventually move there. In 1935, Shamir migrated to Palestine, where he worked in an accountant's office. He later adopted as his surname the name he used on a forged underground identity card, Shamir. He told his wife this was because Shamir means a thorn that stabs and a rock that can cut steel. In 1944 he married Shulamit, whom he met in a detention camp when she migrated to Mandate Palestine from Bulgaria by boat in 1941 and was incarcerated because she entered the territory illegally. They had two children, Yair and Gilada. Shulamit died on July 29, 2011.