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Yadin was born in 1917 to noted archeologist Eliezer Sukenik . He joined the Haganah at age fifteen and served there in a variety of different capacities. In 1946, however, he left the Haganah following an argument with its commander Yitzchak Sadeh over the inclusion of a machine gun as part of standard squad equipment. He was a university student when, in 1947, shortly before the State of Israel declared its independence, he was called back to active service by David Ben Gurion. He served in various positions during Israel's War of Independence, and was responsible for many of the key decisions made during the course of that war.
Yadin was appointed Chief-of-Staff on November 9, 1949, following the resignation of Yaakov Dori, and served in that capacity for three years. He resigned on December 7, 1952, over disagreements with then prime minister and defense minister Ben Gurion about cuts to the military budget. By age thirty-five, he had completed his military career.
Upon leaving the military, he devoted himself to research and began his life's-work in archeology. In 1956 he received the Israel Prize for his doctoral thesis on the translation of the Dead Sea Scrolls. As an archeologist, he excavated some of the most important sites in the region, including the Qumran Caves, Masada, Hazor, and Tel Megiddo. He was sometimes forced to deal with the theft of important artifacts, occasionally by prominent political and military figures. In one instance, where the thefts were commonly attributed to the famous one-eyed general Moshe Dayan, he remarked: "I know who did it, and I am not going to say who it is, but if I catch him, I'll poke out his other eye too."
Even as an archeologist, Yadin never completely abandoned public life. On the eve of the Six Day War, he served as a military adviser to prime minister Levi Eshkol, and following the Yom Kippur War, he was a member of the Agranat Commission that investigated the government's fiascos that led to the war.
In 1977 Yadin formed the Democratic Movement for Change (known by its Hebrew acronym DaSh), together with Professor Amnon Rubenstein, Shmuel Tamir, Meir Amit, and many other prominent public figures. The new party seemed to be an ideal for solution for many Israelis who were fed up with alleged corruption in the Labor Party, which included the Asher Yadlin incident, the suicide of Housing Minister Avraham Ofer , and Leah Rabin's illegal dollar account in the United States. Furthermore, the DMC was a response to the increasing sense of frustration and despair in the aftermath of the 1973 war, and the social and political developments that followed in its wake. Many people regarded Yadin, a warrior and a scholar, as the quintessential prototype of the ideal Israeli, untainted by corruption, who could lead the country on a new path.
In the 1977 elections, the new party did remarkably well for its first attempt to enter the Knesset, winning 15 of the 120 seats. As a result of the election, Likud party leader Menachem Begin was able to form a coalition with the DMC, thereby excluding the Labor Party for the first time in Israel's history. As the new Deputy Prime Minister, Yadin played a pivotal role in many events that took place, particularly the contacts with Egypt, which eventually led to the signing of the Camp David Accords and the peace treaty between Israel and her neighbor. Nevertheless, the DMC itself proved to be a failure, and the party broke up into numerous splinter factions, so that by the elections of 1981, the party no longer ran in its original format. That same year, Yadin retired from politics.
He died in 1984.
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