The goal, set up by Alan Smith's deft flick, rounded off an impressive, high-tempo second half that was probably the side's best display under Terry Venables.
Hapoel came with a reputation as an attacking side and they soon lived up to it with frontmen Pini Balili and Saum Toama always looking threatening.
Balili should have put the visitors ahead early on when he was through in space with Paul Robinson in no-man's land, but his attempted chip was gathered high above his head by the relieved keeper.
Toama showed what he could do from a free-kick just outside the area but his low curling shot was well turned away by Robinson diving full-stretch to his right.
At the other end Ian Harte went close with a well struck free-kick and Mark Viduka was left holding his head when his free-kick from a similar area dropped on to the top of the bar.
Leeds best effort came from good work by Viduka to the right of the penalty area. He chipped to the far post where Nick Barmby twisted into a spectacular scissor kick that thumped against the base of the post.
At the heart of everything was Smith, leading the line with incredible power and verve, running down every ball and giving the visiting defence a harrowing time.
But still Leeds couldn't make the breakthrough they needed, Kewell going closest with a volley from a Smith cross, and Harte once again finding the woodwork with a free-kick.
Hapoel hardly had an attack after the break although Toama forced two good saves from Robinson, but finally Kewell found the smallest of gaps and gave Leeds the victory they deserved.
|Kickoff 31 October 2002 20:00 at Elland Road|
|Referee: Van Hulten J||Attendance: 31,867|
Hapoel Tel Aviv 0
E.Bakke, 48, unsporting behaviour
L.Radebe, 60, unsporting behaviour
A.Smith, 89, unsporting behaviour
Toema, 6, unsporting behaviour
Domb, 52, unsporting behaviour
Hapoel Tel Aviv 0