Eli HaZeev was born in New York on October 19, 1947 in the US to Mary and James Mahon. Eli was drafted into the American army and fought in Vietnam. Afterwards he converted and changed his name to HaZeev. In 1973 he made aliya and served in an IDF combat unit.
He married Shoshana and the couple had a daughter. They lived in Kiryat Arba and Eli was a member of the Kach movement. He worked as a locksmith and studied Torah.
On May 2, 1980, as a group of worshippers left the Patriarchs' Cave towards Bet Hadassah, terrorists opened fire, killing five - including Eli - and wounded 16.