Zalman Gavrielov was born in 1920 in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. In 1940, when he was a student at an art school, he was drafted into the Red Army. He began his military service in the artillery; half a year later, he was sent to the Artillery and Military Engineering School in Rostov-on-Don in southern Russia. However, Gavrielov did not have time to graduate because Operation Barbarossa began and the students from his course were sent to the front.
Gabrielov was assigned to the 66th Regiment of Attack Aircraft (later the 140th Guards Regiment of Attack Aircraft) and, in the summer of 1941, assigned to the Western Front as an aircraft weapons repairman with the rank of sergeant. His citation for the Order of the Red Star that he was awarded in September 1944 says that he prepared the weapons and ammunition for 753 sorties and repaired the armaments of 30 IL-2 airplanes, in addition to the minor repairs that he carried out. In some cases, when the aircraft squad had no gunner (the gunners suffered more losses than the pilots or radio-operators), Gabrielov volunteered to fly as a gunner in the IL-2 aircraft. He remarked that he did not have to do this and could easily have remained on his base. However, he was eager to fight the Germans since he was aware of the fate of European Jews under Nazi occupation. He noted that the most painful moments of his service came after the return of Soviet planes from sorties, when he and his comrades had to go to retrieve the bodies of their fellow gunners.
Gabrielov also served as an instructor for young air weapons technicians.
Gabrielov fought in Ukraine in 1941 and 1942, in northwestern Russia from August 1942 to March 1943, then in the area of Voronezh (southern Russia) and, again, in Ukraine. He was released from army service after the war, in 1946.
In 1990, Zalman Gavrielov and his family settled in Israel.