Yosef Harmelin was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1922. He was a member of the Zionist youth movement "Young Maccabi" and the sports organization "Ha-Koah," was considered a skilled athlete, especially in swimming.
In 1939 he immigrated to Israel alone, with the Youth Immigration program, and arrived at the Ben Shemen youth village, and later became a member of Kibbutz Neve Yam. In 1948 he joined the IDF and fought in the battles of the War of Independence.
In the ISA
1949 - joined the ISA and served in several commanding positions.
1960 - appointed ISA Deputy Director
1964 -appointed ISA Director
1974 - retired from the ISA
1986 - called to return and stand at the head of the ISA as Director in order to rehabilitate the organization following the "Bus 300" Affair.
1988 – final retirement from the ISA
Between periods of ISA service
In the twelve years between his two periods in the ISA, Harmelin served as chairman of an oil company; Israeli ambassador in Iran and South Africa; and the supervisor of the security establishment, in the office of the State Comptroller.
Yosef Harmelin passed away in 1994 at the age of 72.