Irgun

Irgun

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The Irgun or Irgun Zevai Leumi to give it its full title (from , "National Military Organization in the Land of Israel"), was a Zionist
Zionism
Zionism is a Jewish political movement that, in its broadest sense, has supported the self-determination of the Jewish people in a sovereign Jewish national homeland. Since the establishment of the State of Israel, the Zionist movement continues primarily to advocate on behalf of the Jewish state...

 paramilitary
Paramilitary
A paramilitary is a force whose function and organization are similar to those of a professional military, but which is not considered part of a state's formal armed forces....

 group that operated in Mandate Palestine
Palestine (mandate)
The British Mandate for Palestine, also known as the Palestine Mandate, The British Mandate of Palestine and the Mandate for Palestine, was a legal commission for the administration of Palestine, the draft of which was formally confirmed by the Council of the League of Nations on 24 July 1922 and...

 between 1931 and 1948. It was an offshoot of the earlier and larger Jewish paramilitary
Paramilitary
A paramilitary is a force whose function and organization are similar to those of a professional military, but which is not considered part of a state's formal armed forces....

 organization haHaganah (Hebrew: "The Defense", ההגנה). When the group broke from the Haganah it became known as the Haganah Bet (Hebrew: literally "Defense 'B' " or "Second Defense"), or alternatively as haHaganah haLeumit or Ha'ma'amad . Irgun members were absorbed into the Israel Defence Forces at the start of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war
1948 Arab-Israeli War
The 1948 Arab–Israeli War, known to Israelis as the War of Independence or War of Liberation The war commenced after the termination of the British Mandate for Palestine and the creation of an independent Israel at midnight on 14 May 1948 when, following a period of civil war, Arab armies invaded...

. The Irgun is also referred to as Etzel , an acronym of the Hebrew initials, or by the abbreviation IZL.

The Irgun policy was based on what was then called Revisionist Zionism
Revisionist Zionism
Revisionist Zionism is a nationalist faction within the Zionist movement. It is the founding ideology of the non-religious right in Israel, and was the chief ideological competitor to the dominant socialist Labor Zionism...

 founded by Ze'ev Jabotinsky. According to Howard Sachar
Howard Sachar
Howard Morley Sachar is an American historian. He is Professor Emeritus of History and International Affairs at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. and the author of 16 books, as well as numerous articles in scholarly journals, on the subjects of Middle Eastern and Modern European...

, "The policy of the new organization was based squarely on Jabotinsky's teachings: every Jew had the right to enter Palestine; only active retaliation would deter the Arabs; only Jewish armed force would ensure the Jewish state".

Two of the operations for which the Irgun is best known are the bombing of the King David Hotel
King David Hotel bombing
The King David Hotel bombing was an attack carried out by themilitant right-wing Zionist underground organization Irgun on the King David Hotel in Jerusalem on 22 July 1946...

 in Jerusalem on 22 July 1946 and the Deir Yassin massacre
Deir Yassin massacre
The Deir Yassin massacre took place on April 9, 1948, when around 120 fighters from the Irgun Zevai Leumi and Lohamei Herut Israel Zionist paramilitary groups attacked Deir Yassin near Jerusalem, a Palestinian-Arab village of roughly 600 people...

, carried out together with Lehi
Lehi (group)
Lehi , commonly referred to in English as the Stern Group or Stern Gang, was a militant Zionist group founded by Avraham Stern in the British Mandate of Palestine...

 on 9 April 1948.

The Irgun has been viewed as a terrorist organization or organization which carried out terrorist acts.

The Irgun was a political predecessor to Israel's right-wing
Right-wing politics
In politics, Right, right-wing and rightist generally refer to support for a hierarchical society justified on the basis of an appeal to natural law or tradition. To varying degrees, the Right rejects the egalitarian objectives of left-wing politics, claiming that the imposition of equality is...

 Herut
Herut
Herut was the major right-wing political party in Israel from the 1940s until its formal merger into Likud in 1988, and an adherent of Revisionist Zionism.-History:...

(or "Freedom") party, which led to today's Likud
Likud
Likud is the major center-right political party in Israel. It was founded in 1973 by Menachem Begin in an alliance with several right-wing and liberal parties. Likud's victory in the 1977 elections was a major turning point in the country's political history, marking the first time the left had...

 party. Likud has led or been part of most Israeli governments since 1977.

Nature of the Movement



Members of the Irgun came mostly from Beitar
Betar
The Betar Movement is a Revisionist Zionist youth movement founded in 1923 in Riga, Latvia, by Vladimir Jabotinsky. It has been traditionally linked to the original Herut and then Likud political parties of Israel, and was closely affiliated with the pre-Israel Revisionist Zionist splinter group...

 and from the Revisionist Party
Revisionist Zionism
Revisionist Zionism is a nationalist faction within the Zionist movement. It is the founding ideology of the non-religious right in Israel, and was the chief ideological competitor to the dominant socialist Labor Zionism...

 both in Palestine and abroad. The Revisionist Movement made up a popular backing for the underground organization. Ze'ev Jabotinsky, founder of Revisionist Zionism, was the commander of the organization until he died. He formulated the general realm of operation, regarding Restraint
Havlagah
HaHavlagah was a strategic policy used by the Haganah members with regard to actions taken against Arab groups who were attacking the Jewish settlement during the British Mandate of Palestine. Its core principles were fortification and abstention from taking revenge on Arabs by attacking innocent...

and the end thereof, and was the inspiration for the organization overall. An additional major source of ideological inspiration was the poetry of Uri Zvi Greenberg
Uri Zvi Greenberg
Uri Zvi Grinberg was an acclaimed Israeli poet and journalist who wrote in Yiddish and Hebrew.-Biography:Uri Zvi Grinberg was born in Bialikamin, Galicia, then Austria-Hungary, into a prominent Hasidic family. He was raised in Lemberg . Some of his poems in Yiddish and Hebrew were published...

. The symbol of the organization, with the motto רק כך (Only Thus), underneath a hand holding a rifle in the foreground of all of mandatory Palestine (both sides of the Jordan River), implying that force was the only way to "liberate the homeland".

The number of members of the Irgun varied from a few hundred to a few thousand. Most of its members were people who joined the organization's command, under which they carried out various operations and filled positions, largely in opposition to British law. Most of them were "ordinary" people, who held regular jobs, and only a few dozen worked full time in the Irgun.

The Irgun disagreed with the policy of the Yishuv
Yishuv
The Yishuv or Ha-Yishuv is the term referring to the body of Jewish residents in Palestine before the establishment of the State of Israel...

 and with the World Zionist Organization
World Zionist Organization
The World Zionist Organization , or WZO, was founded as the Zionist Organization , or ZO, in 1897 at the First Zionist Congress, held from August 29 to August 31 in Basel, Switzerland...

, both with regard to strategy and basic ideology and with regard to PR and military tactics, such as use of armed force to accomplish the Zionist ends, operations against the Arabs during the riots, and relations with the British mandatory government. Therefore the Irgun tended to ignore the decisions made by the Zionist leadership and the Yishuv's institutions. This fact caused the elected bodies not to recognize the independent organization, and during most of the time of its existence the organization was seen as irresponsible, and its actions thus worthy of thwarting. Therefore the Irgun accompanied its armed operations with public relations campaigns, in order to convince the public of the Irgun's way and the problems with the official political leadership of the Yishuv. The Irgun put out numerous advertisements, an underground newspaper and even ran the first independent Hebrew radio station – Kol Zion HaLochemet
Kol TSion HaLokhemet
Kol Tsion HaLokhemet was the underground radio station of the Irgun.-History:Kol Zion HaLokhemet was operated from February 1939. It may have been the first underground radio station in the world...

.

Structure, command, insignia



As an underground armed organization, members did not normally call it by its name, but rather used other names. In the first years of its existence it was known primarily as "ההגנה הלאומית" (the National Haganah), and also by names such as "Irgun Bet", "Haganah Bet", the "Parallel Organization" and the "Rightwing Organization". Later on it was most widely known as "המעמד" (the Stand). The anthem adopted by the Irgun was "Anonymous Soldiers", written by Avraham (Yair) Stern
Avraham Stern
Avraham Stern , alias Yair was a Jewish paramilitary leader who founded and led the militant Zionist organization later known as Lehi .-Early life:Stern was born in Suwałki, Poland...

 who was at the time a commander in the Irgun. Later on Stern defected from the Irgun and founded Lehi
Lehi (group)
Lehi , commonly referred to in English as the Stern Group or Stern Gang, was a militant Zionist group founded by Avraham Stern in the British Mandate of Palestine...

, and the song became the anthem of the Lehi. The Irgun's new anthem then became the third verse of the "Beitar Song", by Ze'ev Jabotinsky.

In August 1933 a "Supervisory Committee" for the Irgun was established, which included representatives from most of the Zionist political parties. The members of this committee were Meir Grossman (of the Hebrew State Party), Rabbi Meir Bar Ilan
Meir Bar-Ilan
Meir Berlin, later Hebraized to Meir Bar-Ilan, , born Volozhin, Lithuania, died Jerusalem, Israel) was anOrthodox rabbi and leader of Religious Zionism, the Mizrachi movement in USA and British Mandate of Palestine...

 (of the Mizrachi Party
Mizrachi (Religious Zionism)
The Mizrachi is the name of the religious Zionist organization founded in 1902 in Vilnius at a world conference of religious Zionists called by Rabbi Yitzchak Yaacov Reines. Bnei Akiva, which was founded in 1929, is the youth movement associated with Mizrachi...

, either Immanuel Neumann or Yehoshua Supersky (of the General Zionists
General Zionists
The General Zionists were centrists within the Zionist movement and a political party in Israel. Their political arm is an ancestor of the modern-day Likud.-History:...

) and Ze'ev Jabotinsky or Eliyahu Ben Horin (of Hatzohar
Hatzohar
Hatzohar , officially Brit HaTzionim HaRevizionistim was a Revisionist Zionist organisation and political party in Mandate Palestine and newly-independent Israel.-Background:...

). The committee was in charge of the Irgun until 1937, when the group split yet again. From that point on, the Irgun was under Jabotinsky's command. After his death ties were formed between the Irgun and the New Zionist Organization. These ties were broken in 1944 when the Irgun declared war on the British government.

Within the Irgun, Avraham Tehomi
Avraham Tehomi
Avraham T'homi was a noted Jewish militant, and a key figure in the history of the Hebrew National Military Organization and allegedly in the killing of Jacob Israël de Haan. His nickname in the Irgun was 'Gideon'....

 was the first to serve as "Head of the Headquarters" or "Chief Commander". Alongside Tehomi served the "Headquarters". When the armed group expanded, districts were laid out within the movement. A local Irgun unit was called a "Branch". A "Brigade" in the Irgun was made up of three sections. A section was made up of two groups, at the head of each was a "Group Head", and a deputy. Later on various newer units were established, who answered to a "Center" or
"Staff"). Ranks were put into use later on and were (in ascending order) Deputy, Group Head, Sergeant (for a Section), Sergeant A (Brigade), First Sergeant (Battalion); officer ranks were "Gundar" (District of Unit Commander) and First Gundar (Senior Commander). A rank of Major was awarded to the Irgun commander Yaakov Meridor
Yaakov Meridor
Ya'akov Meridor was a Revisionist Zionist activist, Irgun commander and Israeli politician.-Biography:Meridor was born in Poland in 1913, to a family of middle-class merchants. After hearing reports of the first Arab rebellion in Mandate Palestine, he became a member of the Betar Movement in 1930...

 and a rank of Major General (Aluf
Aluf
Aluf is the term used for General and Admiral in the Israel Defense Forces . In addition to the Aluf rank itself, there are four other ranks which are derivatives of the word...

) to David Raziel
David Raziel
thumb|David RazielDavid Raziel was a fighter of the Jewish underground during the British mandate, and one of the founders of the Irgun.-Biography:...

. Until his death in 1940, Jabotinsky was known as the "Military Commander of the Etzel" or the "Supreme Commander".

The militant nature of the organization manifested itself in two ways. First, was the execution of strict drill exercises, carrying out of ceremonies at different times, and strict attention given to discipline, formal ceremonies and military relationships between the various ranks. Another way the military nature was apparent was the organized training regime. The Irgun trained with handguns and submachine guns, hand grenade throwing, and combined attacks on targets. The Irgun put out professional publications on combat doctrine, weaponry, leadership, drill exercises, etc. Among these publications were the 240-page book "The Gun" by David Raziel
David Raziel
thumb|David RazielDavid Raziel was a fighter of the Jewish underground during the British mandate, and one of the founders of the Irgun.-Biography:...

 and Avraham Stern, and the 284-page book "The Compiled and Expanded Guide to Drill Exercises" by Raziel. Up until the Arab Revolt of 1936-1939 the Haganah also made use of these guidebooks (afterwards the Haganah published its own military literature).

Until World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 the group armed itself by weapons purchased in Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, primarily Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 and Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

, and smuggled to Palestine. The Irgun also established workshops that manufactured spare parts and attachments for the weapons. Also manufactured were land mines and simple hand grenades. Another way in which the Irgun armed itself was "Confiscations" – stealing weapons from the British police and military.

Founding


The Irgun's first steps were in the aftermath of the Riots of 1929
1929 Palestine riots
The 1929 Palestine riots, also known as the Western Wall Uprising, the 1929 Massacres, , or the Buraq Uprising , refers to a series of demonstrations and riots in late August 1929 when a long-running dispute between Muslims and Jews over access to the Western Wall in Jerusalem escalated into violence...

. In the Jerusalem branch of the Haganah there were feelings of disappointment and internal unrest towards the leadership of the movements and the Histadrut
Histadrut
HaHistadrut HaKlalit shel HaOvdim B'Eretz Yisrael , known as the Histadrut, is Israel's organization of trade unions. Established in December 1920 during the British Mandate for Palestine, it became one of the most powerful institutions of the State of Israel.-History:The Histadrut was founded in...

 (at that time the organization running the Haganah). These feelings were a result of the view that the Haganah was not adequately defending Jewish interests in the region. Likewise, critics of the leadership spoke out against alleged failures in the amount of weapons, readiness of the movement and its policy of restraint and not fighting back. On April 10, 1931, commanders and equipment managers announced that they refuse to return weapons to the Haganah that had been issued to them earlier, prior to the Nebi Musa holiday. These weapons were later returned by the commander of the Jerusalem branch, Avraham Tehomi
Avraham Tehomi
Avraham T'homi was a noted Jewish militant, and a key figure in the history of the Hebrew National Military Organization and allegedly in the killing of Jacob Israël de Haan. His nickname in the Irgun was 'Gideon'....

, aka "Gideon". However, the commanders who decided to rebel against the leadership of the Haganah relayed a message regarding their resignations to the Vaad Leumi
Vaad Leumi
The Jewish National Council , also known as the Jewish People's Council was the main national institution of the Jewish community within the British Mandate of Palestine.-History:...

, and thus this schism created a new independent movement.

The leader of the new underground movement was Avraham Tehomi
Avraham Tehomi
Avraham T'homi was a noted Jewish militant, and a key figure in the history of the Hebrew National Military Organization and allegedly in the killing of Jacob Israël de Haan. His nickname in the Irgun was 'Gideon'....

, alongside other founding members who were all senior commanders in the Haganah, members of the Young Labor Party and of the Histadrut. Also among them was Eliyahu Ben Horin, an activist in the Revisionist Party
Revisionist Zionism
Revisionist Zionism is a nationalist faction within the Zionist movement. It is the founding ideology of the non-religious right in Israel, and was the chief ideological competitor to the dominant socialist Labor Zionism...

. This group was known as the "Odessan Gang", because they previously had been members of the Haganah Ha'Atzmit of Jewish Odessa
Odessa
Odessa or Odesa is the administrative center of the Odessa Oblast located in southern Ukraine. The city is a major seaport located on the northwest shore of the Black Sea and the fourth largest city in Ukraine with a population of 1,029,000 .The predecessor of Odessa, a small Tatar settlement,...

. The new movement was named Irgun Tsvai Leumi, ("National Military Organization") in order to emphasize its active nature in contrast to the Haganah. Moreover, the organization was founded with the desire to become a true military organization and not just a militia
Militia
The term militia is commonly used today to refer to a military force composed of ordinary citizens to provide defense, emergency law enforcement, or paramilitary service, in times of emergency without being paid a regular salary or committed to a fixed term of service. It is a polyseme with...

 as the Haganah was at the time.

In the autumn of that year the Jerusalem group merged with other armed groups affiliated with Beitar
Betar
The Betar Movement is a Revisionist Zionist youth movement founded in 1923 in Riga, Latvia, by Vladimir Jabotinsky. It has been traditionally linked to the original Herut and then Likud political parties of Israel, and was closely affiliated with the pre-Israel Revisionist Zionist splinter group...

. The Beitar groups' center of activity was in Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv , officially Tel Aviv-Yafo , is the second most populous city in Israel, with a population of 404,400 on a land area of . The city is located on the Israeli Mediterranean coastline in west-central Israel. It is the largest and most populous city in the metropolitan area of Gush Dan, with...

, and they began their activity in 1928 with the establishment of "Officers and Instructors School of Beitar". Students at this institution had broken away from the Haganah earlier, for political reasons, and the new group called itself the "National Defense", הגנה הלאומית. During the riots of 1929 Beitar youth participated in the defense of Tel Aviv neighborhoods under the command of Yermiyahu Halperin, at the behest of the Tel Aviv city hall. After the riots the Tel Avivian group expanded, and was known as "The Right Wing Organization".

After the Tel Aviv expansion another branch was established in Haifa
Haifa
Haifa is the largest city in northern Israel, and the third-largest city in the country, with a population of over 268,000. Another 300,000 people live in towns directly adjacent to the city including the cities of the Krayot, as well as, Tirat Carmel, Daliyat al-Karmel and Nesher...

. Towards the end of 1932 the Haganah branch of Safed
Safed
Safed , is a city in the Northern District of Israel. Located at an elevation of , Safed is the highest city in the Galilee and of Israel. Due to its high elevation, Safed experiences warm summers and cold, often snowy, winters...

 also defected and joined the Irgun, as well as many members of the Maccabi
Maccabi World Union
The Maccabi World Union is an international Jewish sports organisation spanning 5 continents and more than 50 countries, with some 400,000 members...

 sports association. At that time the movement's underground newsletter, Ha'Metsudah (the Fortress) also began publication, expressing the active trend of the movement. The Irgun also increased its numbers by expanding draft regiments of Beitar – groups of volunteers, committed to two years of security and pioneer activities. These regiments were based in places that from which stemmed new Irgun strongholds in the many places, including the settlements of Yesod HaMa'ala
Yesod HaMa'ala
Yesud HaMa'ala was the first modern Jewish community in the Hula Valley. Built in 1882, the community was among a series of agricultural settlements founded during the First Aliyah...

, Mishmar HaYarden
Mishmar HaYarden
Mishmar HaYarden is a moshav in the Upper Galilee in northern Israel. It belongs to the Mevo'ot HaHermon Regional Council. It is located on Highway 91 between Mahanayim and Gadot.It was founded in the 1950s...

, Rosh Pina
Rosh Pinna
Rosh Pinna is a town of approximately 2,500 people located in the Upper Galilee on the eastern slopes of Mount Kna'anin, the Northern District of Israel. The town was founded in 1882 by thirty immigrant families from Romania, making it one of the oldest Zionist settlements in Israel...

, Metula
Metula
Metula is a town in the Northern District of Israel. Metula is located between the sites of the Biblical cities of Dan, Abel Bet Maacah, and Ijon, bordering Lebanon.-Early history:...

 and Nahariya
Nahariya
Nahariya is the northernmost coastal city in Israel, with an estimated population of 51,200.-History:Nahariya was founded by German Jewish immigrants from the Fifth Aliyah in the 1930s...

 in the north; in the center – Hadera
Hadera
Hadera is a city located in the Haifa District of Israel approximately from the major cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa. The city is located along of the Israeli Mediterranean Coastal Plain...

, Binyamina, Herzliya
Herzliya
Herzliya is a city in the central coast of Israel, at the western part of the Tel Aviv District. It has a population of 87,000 residents. Named after Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism, Herzliya covers an area of 26 km²...

, Netanya
Netanya
Netanya is a city in the Northern Centre District of Israel, and is the capital of the surrounding Sharon plain. It is located north of Tel Aviv, and south of Haifa between the 'Poleg' stream and Wingate Institute in the south and the 'Avichail' stream in the north.Its of beaches have made the...

 and Kfar Sava, and south of there – Rishon LeZion, Rehovot
Rehovot
Rehovot is a city in the Center District of Israel, about south of Tel Aviv. According to the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics , at the end of 2009 the city had a total population of 112,700. Rehovot's official website estimates the population at 114,000.Rehovot was built on the site of Doron,...

 and Ness Ziona
Ness Ziona
Ness Ziona is a city in central Israel founded in 1883. At the end of 2009 the city had a total population of 38,100, and its jurisdiction was 15,579 dunams.-Nahalat Reuben:...

. Later on regiments were also active in the Old City of Jerusalem ("the Kotel Brigades") among others. Primary training centers were based in Ramat Gan, Qastina
Qastina
Qastina was a Palestinian village, located 38 kilometers northeast of Gaza City. It was depopulated during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.-Location:...

 (by Kiryat Mal'akhi of today) and other places.

Under Tehomi's command



In 1933 there were some signs of unrest, seen by the incitement of the local Arab leadership to act against the authorities. The strong British response put down the disturbances quickly. During that time the Irgun operated in a similar manner to the Haganah and was a guarding organization. The two organizations cooperated in ways such as coordination of posts and even intelligence sharing.

In protest against, and with the aim of ending Jewish immigration to Palestine, the Great Arab Revolt of 1936-1939 broke out on April 19, 1936. The riots took the form of attacks by Arab rioters ambushing main roads, bombing of roads and settlements as well as property and agriculture vandalism. In the beginning, the Irgun and the Haganah generally maintained a policy of restraint, apart from a few instances. Some expressed resentment at this policy, leading up internal unrest in the two organizations. The Irgun tended to retaliate more often, and sometimes Irgun members patrolled areas beyond their positions in order to encounter attackers ahead of time. However, there were differences of opinion regarding what to do in the Haganah, as well. Due to the joining of many Beitar Youth members, Jabotinsky (founder of Beitar) had a great deal of influence over Irgun policy. Nevertheless, Jabotinsky was of the opinion that for moral reasons violent retaliation was not to be undertaken.

During the first stage of the Revolt, from April 1936 until October of that year, 80 Jews were killed, 369 were injured, 19 schools were attacked, nine orphanages and three old-age homes. 380 attacks on trains and buses were carried out, and approximately 4000 acres (1,618.7 ha) of agricultural land were destroyed. These actions were carried out by armed Palestinian Arab gangs who were joined by Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

n and Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

i reinforcements. The Supreme Arab Committee, led by Haj Amin al-Husayni
Mohammad Amin al-Husayni
Haj Mohammed Effendi Amin el-Husseini was a Palestinian Arab nationalist and Muslim leader in the British Mandate of Palestine. From as early as 1920, in order to secure the independence of Palestine as an Arab state he actively opposed Zionism, and was implicated as a leader of a violent riot...

, which directed the riots, also declared a general strike
General strike
A general strike is a strike action by a critical mass of the labour force in a city, region, or country. While a general strike can be for political goals, economic goals, or both, it tends to gain its momentum from the ideological or class sympathies of the participants...

 on labor and trade. In the beginning of October 1936 gang activity declined due to the intervention of the British army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

.

In November 1936 the Peel Commission
Peel Commission
The Peel Commission of 1936-1937, formally known as the Palestine Royal Commission, was a British Royal Commission of Inquiry set out to propose changes to the British Mandate of Palestine following the outbreak of the 1936-1939 Arab revolt in Palestine...

 was sent to inquire regarding the breakout of the riots and propose a solution to end the Revolt. In early 1937 there were still some in the Yishuv
Yishuv
The Yishuv or Ha-Yishuv is the term referring to the body of Jewish residents in Palestine before the establishment of the State of Israel...

 who felt the commission would recommend a partition of the land west of the Jordan River, thus creating a Jewish state on part of the land. The Irgun leadership, as well as the "Supervisory Committee" held similar beliefs, as did some members of the Haganah and the Jewish Agency. This belief strengthened the policy of restraint
Havlagah
HaHavlagah was a strategic policy used by the Haganah members with regard to actions taken against Arab groups who were attacking the Jewish settlement during the British Mandate of Palestine. Its core principles were fortification and abstention from taking revenge on Arabs by attacking innocent...

 and led to the position that there was no room for defense institutions in the future Jewish state. Tehomi was quoted as saying: "We stand before great events: a Jewish state and a Jewish army. There is a need for a single military force". This position intensified the differences of opinion regarding the policy of restraint, both within the Irgun and within the political camp aligned with the organization. The leadership committee of the Irgun supported a merger with the Haganah. On April 24, 1937 a referendum was held among Irgun members regarding its continued independent existence. David Raziel and Avraham (Yair) Stern came out publicly in support for the continued existence of the Irgun:
The Irgun has been placed... before a decision to make, whether to submit to the authority of the government and the Jewish Agency or to prepare for a double sacrifice and endangerment. Some of our friends do not have appropriate willingness for this difficult position, and have submitted to the Jewish Agency and has left the battle... all of the attempts... to unite with the leftist organization have failed, because the Left entered into negotiations not on the basis of unification of forces, but the submission of one such force to the other...

The first split


In April 1937 the Irgun split after the referendum. Approximately 1,500-2,000 people, about half of the Irgun's membership, including the senior command staff, regional committee members, along with most of the Irgun's weapons, returned to the Haganah, which at that time was under the Jewish Agency's leadership. In their opinion, the removal of the Haganah from the Jewish Agency's leadership to the national institutions necessitated their return. Furthermore, they no longer saw significant ideological differences between the movements. Those who remained in the Irgun were primarily young activists, mostly laypeople, who sided with the independent existence of the Irgun. In fact, most of those who remained were originally Beitar people. Moshe Rosenberg estimated that approximately 1,800 members remained. In theory, the Irgun remained an organization not aligned with a political party, but in reality the supervisory committee was disbanded and the Irgun's continued ideological path was outlined according to Ze'ev Jabotinsky's school of thought and his decisions, until the movement eventually became Revisionist Zionism's military arm. One of the major changes in policy by Jabotinsky was the end of the policy of restraint
Havlagah
HaHavlagah was a strategic policy used by the Haganah members with regard to actions taken against Arab groups who were attacking the Jewish settlement during the British Mandate of Palestine. Its core principles were fortification and abstention from taking revenge on Arabs by attacking innocent...

.

On April 27, 1937 the Irgun founded a new headquarters, staffed by Moshe Rosenberg at the head, Avraham (Yair) Stern
Avraham Stern
Avraham Stern , alias Yair was a Jewish paramilitary leader who founded and led the militant Zionist organization later known as Lehi .-Early life:Stern was born in Suwałki, Poland...

 as secretary, David Raziel
David Raziel
thumb|David RazielDavid Raziel was a fighter of the Jewish underground during the British mandate, and one of the founders of the Irgun.-Biography:...

 as head of the Jerusalem branch, Hanoch Kalai
Hanoch Kalai
Hanoch Kalai was a member of Irgun and Lehi , and an expert on the Hebrew language. He spent three months as Irgun's Commander in Chief while David Raziel was imprisoned by the British Mandate for Palestine police, until his own arrest.-Early Life:Kalai was born in Lithuania, the son of Joseph...

 as commander of Haifa and Aharon Haichman as commander of Tel Aviv. On the 20th of Tammuz, (June 29) the day of Theodor Herzl's
Theodor Herzl
Theodor Herzl , born Benjamin Ze’ev Herzl was an Ashkenazi Jew Austro-Hungarian journalist and the father of modern political Zionism and in effect the State of Israel.-Early life:...

 death, a ceremony was held in honor of the reorganization of the underground movement. For security purposes this ceremony was held at a construction site in Tel Aviv.

Ze'ev Jabotinsky placed Col. Robert Bitker
Robert Bitker
Robert Bitker was a Russian-born military commander of the Zionist paramilitary group Irgun. He operated in Shanghai prior to working at the organisation Headquarters, where he was later appointed Chief. He died in the United States in 1977, having emigrated.-References:...

 at the head of the Irgun. Bitker had previously served as Beitar commissioner in China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 and had military experience. A few months later, probably due to total incompatibility with the position, Jabotinsky replaced Bitker with Moshe Rosenberg. When the Peel Commission
Peel Commission
The Peel Commission of 1936-1937, formally known as the Palestine Royal Commission, was a British Royal Commission of Inquiry set out to propose changes to the British Mandate of Palestine following the outbreak of the 1936-1939 Arab revolt in Palestine...

 report was published a few months later, the Revisionist camp decided not to accept the commission's recommendations. Moreover, the organizations of Beitar, Hatzohar
Hatzohar
Hatzohar , officially Brit HaTzionim HaRevizionistim was a Revisionist Zionist organisation and political party in Mandate Palestine and newly-independent Israel.-Background:...

 and the Irgun began to increase their efforts to bring Jews to the land of Israel, illegally. This Aliyah
Aliyah
Aliyah is the immigration of Jews to the Land of Israel . It is a basic tenet of Zionist ideology. The opposite action, emigration from Israel, is referred to as yerida . The return to the Holy Land has been a Jewish aspiration since the Babylonian exile...

 was known as the עליית אף על פי "Af Al Pi (Nevertheless) Aliyah". As opposed to this position, the Jewish Agency began acting on behalf of the Zionist interest on the political front, and continued the policy of restraint. From this point onwards the differences between the Haganah and the Irgun were much more obvious.

Illegal Aliyah



According to Jabotinsky's "Evacuation Plan", which called for millions of European Jews to be brought to Palestine at once, the Irgun helped the illegal immigration of European Jews to the land of Israel. This was named by Jabotinsky the "National Sport". The most significant part of this immigration prior to World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 was carried out by the Revisionist
Revisionist Zionism
Revisionist Zionism is a nationalist faction within the Zionist movement. It is the founding ideology of the non-religious right in Israel, and was the chief ideological competitor to the dominant socialist Labor Zionism...

 camp, largely because the Yishuv
Yishuv
The Yishuv or Ha-Yishuv is the term referring to the body of Jewish residents in Palestine before the establishment of the State of Israel...

 institutions and the Jewish Agency shied away from such an expensive project, as well as the belief that Britain would in the future allow widespread Jewish immigration.

The Irgun joined forces with Hatzohar
Hatzohar
Hatzohar , officially Brit HaTzionim HaRevizionistim was a Revisionist Zionist organisation and political party in Mandate Palestine and newly-independent Israel.-Background:...

 and Beitar
Betar
The Betar Movement is a Revisionist Zionist youth movement founded in 1923 in Riga, Latvia, by Vladimir Jabotinsky. It has been traditionally linked to the original Herut and then Likud political parties of Israel, and was closely affiliated with the pre-Israel Revisionist Zionist splinter group...

 in September 1937, when it assisted with the Aliyah of a convoy of 54 Beitar members at Tantura Beach (near Haifa
Haifa
Haifa is the largest city in northern Israel, and the third-largest city in the country, with a population of over 268,000. Another 300,000 people live in towns directly adjacent to the city including the cities of the Krayot, as well as, Tirat Carmel, Daliyat al-Karmel and Nesher...

). The Irgun was responsible for discreetly bringing the Olim, or Jewish immigrants, to the beaches, and dispersing them among the various Jewish settlements. The Irgun also began participating in the organizing of the immigration enterprise and undertook the process of accompanying the ships. This began with the ship Draga which arrived at the coast of British Palestine in September 1938. In August of the same year, an agreement was made between Ari Jabotinsky (the son of Ze'ev Jabotinsky), the Beitar representative and Hillel Kook
Hillel Kook
Hillel Kook , also known as Peter Bergson , was a Revisionist Zionist activist, politician, and prominent member of the Irgun.-Early life:...

, the Irgun representative, to coordinate the immigration (also known as Haapala). This agreement was also made in the "Paris Convention" in February 1939, at which also present were Ze'ev Jabotinsky and David Raziel. Afterwards, the "Aliyah Center" was founded, made up of representatives of Hatzohar, Beitar, and the Irgun, thereby making the Irgun a full participant in the organization and execution process.

The difficult conditions on the ships demanded a high level of discipline. The people on board the ships were often split into units, led by commanders. In addition to having a daily roll call and the distribution of food and water (usually very little of either), organized talks were held to provide information regarding the actual arrival in Palestine. One of the largest ships was the Sakaria, with 2,300 Olim, who at the time made up 0.5% of the Jewish population in Palestine. The first vessel arrived on April 13, 1937, and the last on February 13, 1940. All told, about 18,000 Jews reached Palestine with the help of the Revisionist organizations and private initiatives of other Revisionists. Most were not caught by the British.

End of restraint



Irgun members continued to defend settlements, but at the same time began counter-attacks, thus ending the policy of restraint. These attacks were intended to instill fear in the Arab side, in order to cause the Arabs to wish for peace and quiet. In March 1938, David Raziel
David Raziel
thumb|David RazielDavid Raziel was a fighter of the Jewish underground during the British mandate, and one of the founders of the Irgun.-Biography:...

 wrote in the underground newspaper "By the Sword" a constitutive article for the Irgun overall, in which he coined the term "Active Defense":
The actions of the Haganah alone will never be a true victory. If the goal of the war is to break the will of the enemy – and this cannot be attained without destroying his spirit – clearly we cannot be satisfied with solely defensive operations... Such a method of defense, that allows the enemy to attack at will, to reorganize and attack again... and does not intend to remove the enemy's ability to attack a second time – is called passive defense, and ends in downfall and destruction... whoever does not wish to be beaten has no choice but to attack. The fighting side, that does not intend to oppress but to save its liberty and honor, he too has only one way available – the way of attack. Defensiveness by way of offensiveness, in order to deprive the enemy the option of attacking, is called active defense.


The first operations began around April 1936, and by the end of World War II, more than 250 Arabs had been killed. The trend of activities was an attempt to respond "an eye for an eye
An eye for an eye
The meaning of the principle, an eye for an eye, is that a person who has injured another person receives the same injury in compensation. The exact Latin to English translation of this phrase is actually "The law of retaliation." At the root of this principle is that one of the purposes of the...

" in the form of violent operations against Arab violence, and often to match the form of retaliation or its location to correspond to the attack that provoked it. A number of examples:
  • After an Arab shooting at Carmel school in Tel Aviv, which resulted in the death of a Jewish child, Irgun members attacked an Arab neighborhood near Kerem Hatemanim
    Kerem Hatemanim
    Kerem HaTeimanim is a neighbourhood in the center of Tel Aviv, Israel. Its English translation is literally 'Vineyard of the Yemenites'. Its population is estimated at around 80,000, the majority of whom being Yemenite Jews. It is adjacent to the Carmel Market and Allenby Street, and is close to...

     in Tel Aviv, killing one Arab man and injuring another.
  • On August 17, the Irgun responded to shootings by Arabs from the Jaffa
    Jaffa
    Jaffa is an ancient port city believed to be one of the oldest in the world. Jaffa was incorporated with Tel Aviv creating the city of Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel. Jaffa is famous for its association with the biblical story of the prophet Jonah.-Etymology:...

    -Jerusalem train towards Jews that were waiting by the train block on Herzl Street in Tel Aviv. The same day, when a Jewish child was injured by the shooting, Irgun members attacked a train on the same route, killing one Arab and injuring five.

During 1936, Irgun members carried out approximately ten retaliatory operations.

Throughout 1937 the Irgun continued this line of operation.
  • On March 6, a Jew at Sabbath prayers at the Western Wall
    Western Wall
    The Western Wall, Wailing Wall or Kotel is located in the Old City of Jerusalem at the foot of the western side of the Temple Mount...

     was shot by a local Arab. A few hours later, the Irgun shot at an Arab in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Rechavia.
  • On June 29, a band of Arabs attacked an Egged
    Egged Bus Cooperative
    Egged Israel Transport Cooperative Society Ltd , a cooperative owned by its members is the largest transit bus company in Israel. It provides about 55 % of public transport services throughout the country, employs 6,227 workers and has 2,861 buses for more than 928 service routes and 3,103...

     bus on the Jerusalem – Tel Aviv road, killing one Jew. The following day, two Jews were also killed near Karkur
    Pardes Hanna-Karkur
    Pardes Hanna-Karkur is a town in the Haifa District of Israel. In 2009, it had a population of 31,800.-History:In 1913, 15 square kilometers of land was purchased by the Hachsharat Hayishuv society from Arabs in Jenin and Haifa for 400,000 francs...

    . A few hours later, the Irgun carried out a number of operations.
    • An Arab bus making its way from Lifta
      Lifta
      Lifta was an Arab village on the outskirts of Jerusalem. Its population fled during the Arab-Jewish hostilities of 1947/48 and the efforts to relieve the Siege of Jerusalem . The village and spring for which it is named are now a park on the hillside between the western entrance to Jerusalem and...

       was attacked in Jerusalem.
    • In two other locations in Jerusalem, Arabs were shot as well.
    • In Tel Aviv, a hand grenade was thrown at an Arab coffee shop on Carmel St., injuring many of the patrons.
    • Irgun members also injured an Arab on Reines St. in Tel Aviv.
    • On September 5, the Irgun responded to the murder of a rabbi on his way home from prayer in the Old City of Jerusalem by throwing explosives at an Arab bus that had left Lifta, injuring two female passengers and a British police officer.


A more complete list can be found here.

At that time, however, these acts were not yet a part of a formulated policy of the Irgun. Not all of the aforementioned operations received a commander's approval, and Jabotinsky was not in favor of such actions at the time. Jabotinsky still hoped to establish a Jewish force out in the open that would not have to operate underground. However, the failure, in its eyes, of the Peel Commission
Peel Commission
The Peel Commission of 1936-1937, formally known as the Palestine Royal Commission, was a British Royal Commission of Inquiry set out to propose changes to the British Mandate of Palestine following the outbreak of the 1936-1939 Arab revolt in Palestine...

 and the renewal of violence on the part of the Arabs caused the Irgun to rethink its official policy.

Increase in operations


14 November 1937 was a watershed in Irgun activity. From that date, the Irgun increased its reprisals. Following an increase in the number of attacks aimed at Jews, including the killing of five kibbutz
Kibbutz
A kibbutz is a collective community in Israel that was traditionally based on agriculture. Today, farming has been partly supplanted by other economic branches, including industrial plants and high-tech enterprises. Kibbutzim began as utopian communities, a combination of socialism and Zionism...

 members near Kiryat Anavim (today kibbutz Ma'ale HaHamisha
Ma'ale HaHamisha
Ma'ale Hahamisha is a kibbutz in central Israel. Located in the Judean hills just off the Jerusalem–Tel Aviv highway, It falls under the jurisdiction of Mateh Yehuda Regional Council...

), the Irgun undertook a series of attacks in various places in Jerusalem, killing five Arabs. Operations were also undertaken in Haifa
Haifa
Haifa is the largest city in northern Israel, and the third-largest city in the country, with a population of over 268,000. Another 300,000 people live in towns directly adjacent to the city including the cities of the Krayot, as well as, Tirat Carmel, Daliyat al-Karmel and Nesher...

 (shooting at the Arab-populated Wadi Nisnas
Wadi Nisnas
Wadi Nisnas is an Arab neighborhood in the city of Haifa in northern Israel. Nisnas is the Arabic word for mongoose, an indigenous animal. The wadi has a population of about 8,000 inhabitants....

 neighborhood) and in Herzliya
Herzliya
Herzliya is a city in the central coast of Israel, at the western part of the Tel Aviv District. It has a population of 87,000 residents. Named after Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism, Herzliya covers an area of 26 km²...

. The date is known as the day the policy of restraint (Havlagah
Havlagah
HaHavlagah was a strategic policy used by the Haganah members with regard to actions taken against Arab groups who were attacking the Jewish settlement during the British Mandate of Palestine. Its core principles were fortification and abstention from taking revenge on Arabs by attacking innocent...

) ended, or as "Black Sunday". This is when the organization fully changed its policy, with the approval of Jabotinsky and Headquarters to the policy of "active defense" in respect of Irgun actions.

The British responded with the arrest of Beitar and Hatzohar members as suspected members of the Irgun. Military courts were allowed to act under "Time of Emergency Regulations" and even sentence people to death. In this manner Yehezkel Altman, a guard in a Beitar battalion in the Nahalat Yizchak neighborhood of Tel Aviv, shot at an Arab bus, without his commanders' knowledge. Altman was acting in response to a shooting at Jewish vehicles on the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem road the day before. He turned himself in later and was sentenced to death, a sentence which was later commuted to a life sentence.

Despite the arrests, Irgun members continued fighting. Jabotinsky lent his moral support to these activities. In a letter to Moshe Rosenberg on 18 March 1938 he wrote:
Tell them: from afar I collect and save, as precious treasures, news items about your lives. I know of the obstacles that have not impeded your spirit; and I know of your actions as well. I am overjoyed that I have been blessed with such students.


Although the Irgun continued activities such as these, following Rosenberg's orders, they were greatly curtailed. Furthermore, in fear of the British threat of the death sentence for anyone found carrying a weapon, all operations were suspended for eight months. However, opposition to this policy gradually increased. In April, 1938, responding to the killing of six Jews, in which a woman was raped and dismembered, Beitar members from the Rosh Pina
Rosh Pinna
Rosh Pinna is a town of approximately 2,500 people located in the Upper Galilee on the eastern slopes of Mount Kna'anin, the Northern District of Israel. The town was founded in 1882 by thirty immigrant families from Romania, making it one of the oldest Zionist settlements in Israel...

 Brigade went on a reprisal mission, without the consent of their commander, as described by historian Avi Shlaim
Avi Shlaim
Avi Shlaim FBA is a British/Israeli historian. He is a professor of International Relations at the University of Oxford and a fellow of the British Academy.Shlaim is especially well known as a historian of the Arab-Israeli conflict...

:
On 21 April 1938, after several weeks of planning, he and two of his colleagues from the Irgun (Etzel) ambushed an Arab bus at a bend on a mountain road near Safad. They had a hand-grenade, a gun and a pistol. Their plan was to destroy the engine so that the bus would fall off the side of the road and all the passengers would be killed. When the bus approached, they fired at it (not in the air, as Mailer has it) but the grenade lobbed by Ben Yosef did not detonate. The bus with its screaming and terrified passengers drove on.


Although the incident ended without casualties, the three were caught, and one of them – Shlomo Ben-Yosef
Shlomo Ben-Yosef
Shlomo Ben-Yosef was a noted member of the Revisionist Zionist underground Irgun...

 was sentenced to death. Demonstrations around the country, as well as pressure from institutions and people such as Dr. Chaim Weizmann and the Chief Rabbi
Chief Rabbi
Chief Rabbi is a title given in several countries to the recognized religious leader of that country's Jewish community, or to a rabbinic leader appointed by the local secular authorities...

 of Mandatory Palestine, Yitzhak HaLevi Herzog
Yitzhak HaLevi Herzog
Rabbi Yitzhak HaLevi Herzog , also known as Isaac Herzog, was the first Chief Rabbi of Ireland, his term lasting from 1921 to 1936...

 did not reduce his sentence. In Shlomo Ben-Yosef's writings in Hebrew were later found:
I am going to die and I am not sorry at all. Why? Because I am going to die for our country. Shlomo Ben-Yosef.


On 29 June 1938 he was executed, and was the first of the Olei Hagardom
Olei Hagardom
Olei Hagardom refers to members of the pre-state Jewish underground who were tried in British Mandate courts and sentenced to death by hanging, most of them in Acre prison...

. The Irgun revered him after his death and many regarded him as an example.

In light of this, and due to the anger of the Irgun leadership over the decision to adopt a policy of restraint until that point, Jabotinsky relieved Rosenberg of his post and replaced him with David Raziel, who proved to be the most prominent Irgun commander until Menachem Begin
Menachem Begin
' was a politician, founder of Likud and the sixth Prime Minister of the State of Israel. Before independence, he was the leader of the Zionist militant group Irgun, the Revisionist breakaway from the larger Jewish paramilitary organization Haganah. He proclaimed a revolt, on 1 February 1944,...

. Jabotinsky simultaneously instructed the Irgun to end its policy of restraint, leading to armed offensive operations until the end of the Arab Revolt in 1939. In this time, the Irgun mounted about 40 operations against Arabs and Arab villages, for instance:
  • After a Jewish father and son were killed in the Old City of Jerusalem, on June 6, 1938, Irgun members threw explosives from the roof of a nearby house, killing two Arabs and injuring four.
  • The Irgun planted land mine
    Land mine
    A land mine is usually a weight-triggered explosive device which is intended to damage a target—either human or inanimate—by means of a blast and/or fragment impact....

    s in a number of Arab markets
    Souk
    A souq is a commercial quarter in an Arab, Berber, and increasingly European city. The term is often used to designate the market in any Arabized or Muslim city, but in modern times it appears in Western cities too...

    , primarily in places identified by the Irgun as activity centers of armed Arab gangs.
  • Explosives detonated in the Arab souk
    Souk
    A souq is a commercial quarter in an Arab, Berber, and increasingly European city. The term is often used to designate the market in any Arabized or Muslim city, but in modern times it appears in Western cities too...

     in Jerusalem on July 15, killed ten local Arabs.
  • In similar circumstances, 70 Arabs were killed by a land mine
    Land mine
    A land mine is usually a weight-triggered explosive device which is intended to damage a target—either human or inanimate—by means of a blast and/or fragment impact....

     planted in the Arab souk in Haifa.


This action led the British Parliament
Parliament of the United Kingdom
The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the supreme legislative body in the United Kingdom, British Crown dependencies and British overseas territories, located in London...

 to discuss the disturbances in Palestine. On 23 February 1939 the Secretary of State for the Colonies
Secretary of State for the Colonies
The Secretary of State for the Colonies or Colonial Secretary was the British Cabinet minister in charge of managing the United Kingdom's various colonial dependencies....

, Malcolm MacDonald
Malcolm MacDonald
Malcolm John MacDonald OM, PC was a British politician and diplomat.-Background:MacDonald was the son of Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald and Margaret MacDonald. Like his father he was born in Lossiemouth, Moray...

 revealed the British intention to cancel the mandate and establish a state that would preserve Arab rights. This caused a wave of riots and attacks by Arabs against Jews. The Irgun responded four days later with a series of attacks on Arab buses and other sites. The British used military force against the Arab rioters and in the latter stages of the revolt by the Arab community in Palestine, it deteriorated into a series of internal gang wars.

During the same period



In reality, the armed operations against Arabs were the actions of small groups, or even individual Irgun members. Most of the Irgun were involved during this time with protection and defense of settlements. By the late thirties, the Irgun comprised mainly Beitar youth (from its branches or from its work brigades), Hazohar members and the National Workers Union, youth belonging to the Maccabi
Maccabi World Union
The Maccabi World Union is an international Jewish sports organisation spanning 5 continents and more than 50 countries, with some 400,000 members...

 youth group, members of the religious youth group "Alliance of the Hasmoneans" and students from the national unions Yavneh, Yodfat and Elal. In certain places, including settlements in Samaria
Samaria
Samaria, or the Shomron is a term used for a mountainous region roughly corresponding to the northern part of the West Bank.- Etymology :...

 (now known as the northern West Bank
West Bank
The West Bank ) of the Jordan River is the landlocked geographical eastern part of the Palestinian territories located in Western Asia. To the west, north, and south, the West Bank shares borders with the state of Israel. To the east, across the Jordan River, lies the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan...

), the Sharon and southern Judea
Judea
Judea or Judæa was the name of the mountainous southern part of the historic Land of Israel from the 8th century BCE to the 2nd century CE, when Roman Judea was renamed Syria Palaestina following the Jewish Bar Kokhba revolt.-Etymology:The...

, these were the primary defensive forces. In some areas Irgun forces cooperated with Haganah members, such as in the setting up of Tel Tzur (now known as Even Yehuda), a tower and stockade
Tower and stockade
Tower and stockade was a settlement method used by Zionist settlers in the British Mandate of Palestine during the 1936–39 Arab revolt, when the establishment of new Jewish settlements was restricted by the Mandatory authorities...

 Beitar settlement.

At the same time, the Irgun also established itself in Europe. The Irgun built underground cells that participated in organizing Aliyah convoys. The cells were made up almost entirely of Beitar members, and their primary activity was military training in preparation for emigration to Palestine. Ties formed with the Polish authorities brought about courses in which Irgun commanders were trained by Polish officers in advanced military issues such as guerrilla warfare
Guerrilla warfare
Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare and refers to conflicts in which a small group of combatants including, but not limited to, armed civilians use military tactics, such as ambushes, sabotage, raids, the element of surprise, and extraordinary mobility to harass a larger and...

, tactics and laying land mines. Avraham (Yair) Stern
Avraham Stern
Avraham Stern , alias Yair was a Jewish paramilitary leader who founded and led the militant Zionist organization later known as Lehi .-Early life:Stern was born in Suwałki, Poland...

 was notable among the cell organizers in Europe. In 1937 the Polish authorities began to deliver large amounts of weapons to the underground. The transfer of handguns, rifles, explosives and ammunition stopped with the outbreak of World War II. Another field in which the Irgun operated was the training of pilots, so they could serve in the Air Force
Air force
An air force, also known in some countries as an air army, is in the broadest sense, the national military organization that primarily conducts aerial warfare. More specifically, it is the branch of a nation's armed services that is responsible for aerial warfare as distinct from an army, navy or...

 in the future war for independence, in the flight school in Lod
Lod
Lod is a city located on the Sharon Plain southeast of Tel Aviv in the Center District of Israel. At the end of 2010, it had a population of 70,000, roughly 75 percent Jewish and 25 percent Arab.The name is derived from the Biblical city of Lod...

.

Towards the end of 1938 there was progress towards aligning the ideologies of the Irgun and the Haganah. Many rid themselves of the illusion that the land would be divided and a Jewish state would soon exist. The Haganah founded פו"מ, a special operations unit, , which carried out armed operations in response to, and in order to prevent Arab violence. These operations continued into 1939. Furthermore, the opposition within the Yishuv
Yishuv
The Yishuv or Ha-Yishuv is the term referring to the body of Jewish residents in Palestine before the establishment of the State of Israel...

 to illegal immigration significantly decreased, and the Haganah began to bring Jews to Palestine using rented ships, as the Irgun had in the past.

First operations against the British


The publishing of the MacDonald White Paper in May 1939 brought with it new edicts that were intended to lead to a more equitable settlement between Jews and Arabs. However, it was considered by some Jews to have an adverse effect on the continued development of the Jewish community in Palestine. Chief among these was the prohibition on selling land to Jews, and the smaller quotas for Jewish immigration. The entire Yishuv was furious at the contents of the White Paper. There were demonstrations against the "Treacherous Paper", as it was considered that it would preclude the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine.

Under the temporary command of Hanoch Kalai
Hanoch Kalai
Hanoch Kalai was a member of Irgun and Lehi , and an expert on the Hebrew language. He spent three months as Irgun's Commander in Chief while David Raziel was imprisoned by the British Mandate for Palestine police, until his own arrest.-Early Life:Kalai was born in Lithuania, the son of Joseph...

, the Irgun began sabotaging strategic infrastructure such as electricity facilities, radio and telephone lines. It also started publicizing its activity and its goals. This was done in street announcements, newspapers, as well as the underground radio station Kol Zion HaLochemet
Kol TSion HaLokhemet
Kol Tsion HaLokhemet was the underground radio station of the Irgun.-History:Kol Zion HaLokhemet was operated from February 1939. It may have been the first underground radio station in the world...

. The British responded with numerous arrests of Beitar and Hatzohar
Hatzohar
Hatzohar , officially Brit HaTzionim HaRevizionistim was a Revisionist Zionist organisation and political party in Mandate Palestine and newly-independent Israel.-Background:...

 members, some of whom were mistreated to obtain information about the Irgun. The Irgun warned that such activity by the authorities would lead to a violent response. On August 26, 1939 the Irgun published a death sentence
Death Sentence
Death Sentence is a short story by the American science-fiction writer Isaac Asimov. It was first published in the November 1943 issue of Astounding Science Fiction and reprinted in the 1972 collection The Early Asimov.-Plot summary:...

 on Ralph Krans, a British police officer who, as head of the Jewish Department in the Palestine Police, had torture
Torture
Torture is the act of inflicting severe pain as a means of punishment, revenge, forcing information or a confession, or simply as an act of cruelty. Throughout history, torture has often been used as a method of political re-education, interrogation, punishment, and coercion...

d a number of youths who were underground members. Krans and another British officer in the secret police were blown up by the Irgun when a hidden mine exploded.

The British increased their efforts against the Irgun. As a result, on August 31 the British police arrested members meeting in the Irgun headquarters. On the next day, September 1, 1939, World War II broke out.

During World War II


Following the outbreak of war, Ze'ev Jabotinsky and the New Zionist Organization voiced their support for Britain and France. In mid-September 1939 Raziel was moved from his place of detention in Tzrifin
Tzrifin
Tzrifin is an area in Gush Dan in central Israel, located on the eastern side of Rishon LeZion and including parts of Be'er Ya'akov. The area proper is defined as an 'area without jurisdiction' between the two cities....

. This, among other events, encouraged the Irgun to announce a cessation of its activities against the British so as not to hinder Britain's effort to fight "the Hebrew's greatest enemy in the world – German Nazism
Nazism
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

". This announcement ended with the hope that after the war a Hebrew state would be founded "within the historical borders of the liberated homeland". After this announcement Irgun, Beitar and Hatzohar members, including Raziel and the Irgun leadership, were gradually released from detention. The Irgun did not rule out joining the British army and the Jewish Brigade
Jewish Brigade
The Jewish Infantry Brigade Group was a military formation of the British Army that served in Europe during the Second World War. The brigade was formed in late 1944, and its personnel fought the Germans in Italy...

. Irgun members did enlist in various British units. Irgun members also assisted British forces with intelligence in Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

, Bulgaria
Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

, Morocco
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

 and Tunisia
Tunisia
Tunisia , officially the Tunisian RepublicThe long name of Tunisia in other languages used in the country is: , is the northernmost country in Africa. It is a Maghreb country and is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Its area...

. An Irgun unit also operated in Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

 and Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

. David Raziel later died during one of these operations.

During the Holocaust
The Holocaust
The Holocaust , also known as the Shoah , was the genocide of approximately six million European Jews and millions of others during World War II, a programme of systematic state-sponsored murder by Nazi...

, Beitar members revolted numerous times against the Nazis in occupied Europe. The largest of these revolts was the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising
Warsaw Ghetto Uprising
The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising was the Jewish resistance that arose within the Warsaw Ghetto in German occupied Poland during World War II, and which opposed Nazi Germany's effort to transport the remaining ghetto population to Treblinka extermination camp....

 where an armed underground organization fought, comprising Beitar, Hatzohar and Polish Irgun members, under the political leadership of Dawid Wdowiński
Dawid Wdowinski
Dawid Wdowiński was a psychiatrist and doctor of neurology. He was a member of the right-wing Jewish organization Hatzohar and political leader of the Żydowski Związek Wojskowy resistance organization before and during the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.Before World War II, Wdowiński was a chairman of...

, and known as Żydowski Związek Wojskowy (Jewish Military Union). There were instances of Beitar members enlisted in the British military smuggling British weapons to the Irgun.

From 1939 onwards, an Irgun delegation in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 worked for the creation of a Jewish army made up of Jewish refugees and Jews from Palestine, to fight alongside the Allied Forces
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

. In July 1943 the "Emergency Committee to Save the Jewish People in Europe" was formed, and worked until the end of the war to rescue the Jews of Europe from the Nazis and to garner public support for a Jewish state. However, it was not until January 1944 that US President Franklin Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

 established the War Refugee Board
War Refugee Board
The War Refugee Board, established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in January 1944, was a U.S. executive agency created to aid civilian victims of the Nazi and Axis powers...

, which achieved some success in saving European Jews.

The second split



Throughout this entire period the British continued enforcing the MacDonald White Paper's provisions, which included a ban on the sale of land, restrictions on Jewish immigration and increased vigilance against illegal immigration. Part of the reason why the British banned land sales (to anyone) was the confused state of the post Ottoman land registry; it was difficult to determine who actually owned the land that was for sale.

Within the ranks of the Irgun this created much disappointment and unrest, at the center of which was disagreement with the leadership of the New Zionist Organization, David Raziel and the Irgun Headquarters. On June 18, 1939, Avraham (Yair) Stern and others of the leadership were released from prison and a rift opened between them the Irgun and Hatzohar leadership. The controversy centred on the issues of the underground movement submitting to public political leadership and fighting the British. On his release from prison Raziel resigned from Headquarters. To his chagrin, independent operations of senior members of the Irgun were carried out and some commanders even doubted Raziel's loyalty.

In his place, Stern was elected to the leadership. Beitar and Hatzohar members resented this appointment because it was seen as undermining Jabotinsky's authority. In the past, Stern had founded secret Irgun cells in Poland without Jabotinsky's knowledge, in opposition to his wishes. Furthermore, Stern was in favor of removing the Irgun from the authority of the New Zionist Organization, whose leadership urged Raziel to return to the command of the Irgun. He finally consented. Jabotinsky wrote to Raziel and to Stern, and these letters were distributed to the branches of the Irgun:
"...I call upon you: Let nothing disturb our unity. Listen to the commissioner (Raziel), whom I trust, and promise me that you and Beitar
Betar
The Betar Movement is a Revisionist Zionist youth movement founded in 1923 in Riga, Latvia, by Vladimir Jabotinsky. It has been traditionally linked to the original Herut and then Likud political parties of Israel, and was closely affiliated with the pre-Israel Revisionist Zionist splinter group...

, the greatest of my life's achievements, will stand strong and united and allow me to continue with the hope for victory in the war to realize our old Maccabean
Maccabees
The Maccabees were a Jewish rebel army who took control of Judea, which had been a client state of the Seleucid Empire. They founded the Hasmonean dynasty, which ruled from 164 BCE to 63 BCE, reasserting the Jewish religion, expanding the boundaries of the Land of Israel and reducing the influence...

 dream..."


Stern was sent a telegram with an order to obey Raziel, who was reappointed. However, these events did not prevent the splitting of the organization. Suspicion and distrust were rampant among the members. Out of the Irgun a new organization was created on July 17, 1940, which was first named "The National Military Organization in Israel" (as opposed to the "National Military Organization in the Land of Israel") and later on changed its name to Lehi
Lehi (group)
Lehi , commonly referred to in English as the Stern Group or Stern Gang, was a militant Zionist group founded by Avraham Stern in the British Mandate of Palestine...

, an acronym for Lohamei Herut Israel, "Fighters for the Freedom of Israel", (לח"י – לוחמי חירות ישראל). Jabotinsky died in New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

 on August 4, 1940, yet this did not prevent the Lehi split.

The primary difference between the Irgun and the newly formed organization was its intention to fight the British in Palestine, regardless of their war against Germany. Later, additional operational and ideological differences developed that contradicted some of the Irgun's guiding principles. For example, the Lehi supported a population exchange with local Arabs. The Irgun, on the other hand, acted according the Revisionist school of thought that said "There he shall quench his thirst with plenty and happiness, the son of Arab, son of Nazareth (i.e. Christian) and my son."

Moreover, the Irgun's fight against the British was only intended to expel them from the area, and the option of future diplomatic ties with Britain was not discounted. The Lehi, however, declared total war against imperialism
Imperialism
Imperialism, as defined by Dictionary of Human Geography, is "the creation and/or maintenance of an unequal economic, cultural, and territorial relationships, usually between states and often in the form of an empire, based on domination and subordination." The imperialism of the last 500 years,...

 and the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

. Unlike Irgun fighters, Lehi fighters travelled with their weapons on them at all times. One more striking difference was the fact that the Irgun concentrated its operations against British centres of government and its facilities in Palestine, and sometimes warned the British about impending explosions. This contrasted with the Lehi's struggle that concentrated more on attacks on people and the assassination
Assassination
To carry out an assassination is "to murder by a sudden and/or secret attack, often for political reasons." Alternatively, assassination may be defined as "the act of deliberately killing someone, especially a public figure, usually for hire or for political reasons."An assassination may be...

 of political leaders, military and police.

Towards a change of policy

The Irgun's Anthem

Tagar -

Through all obstacles and enemies

Whether you go up or down

In the flames of revolt

Carry a flame to kindle – never mind!

For silence is filth

Worthless is blood and soul

For the sake of the hidden glory



To die or to conquer the hill -

Yodefet, Masada, Beitar.

The split damaged the Irgun both organizationally and from a morale point of view. As their spiritual leader, Jabotinsky's death also added to this feeling. Together, these factors brought about a mass abandonment by members. The British took advantage of this weakness to gather intelligence and arrest Irgun activists. The new Irgun leadership, which included Meridor, Yerachmiel Ha'Levi, Moshe Segal and others used the forced hiatus in activity to rebuild the injured organization. This period was also marked by more cooperation between the Irgun and the Jewish Agency, however Ben Gurion's uncompromising demand that Irgun accept the Agency's command foiled any further cooperation.

In both the Irgun and the Haganah more voices were being heard opposing any cooperation with the British. Nevertheless, an Irgun operation carried out in the service of Britain was aimed at sabotaging pro-Nazi forces in Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

, including the assassination of Haj Amin al-Husayni. Among others, Raziel and Yaakov Meridor
Yaakov Meridor
Ya'akov Meridor was a Revisionist Zionist activist, Irgun commander and Israeli politician.-Biography:Meridor was born in Poland in 1913, to a family of middle-class merchants. After hearing reports of the first Arab rebellion in Mandate Palestine, he became a member of the Betar Movement in 1930...

 participated. On April 20, 1941, during a Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....

 air raid on Habbaniya Airport near Baghdad
Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

, David Raziel, commander of the Irgun, was killed during the operation.

In late 1943 a joint Haganah – Irgun initiative was developed, to form a single fighting body, unaligned with any political party, by the name of עם לוחם (Fighting Nation). The new body's first plan was to kidnap the British High Commissioner of Palestine, Sir Harold MacMichael
Harold MacMichael
Sir Harold Alfred MacMichael, GCMG, DSO , was a British colonial administrator.-Early service:MacMichael graduated with a first from Magdalene College, Cambridge. After passing his civil service exam, he entered the service of the British Empire in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan...

 and deport him to Cyprus
Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

. However, the Haganah leaked the planned operation and it was thwarted before it got off the ground. Nevertheless, at this stage the Irgun ceased its cooperation with the British. As Eliyahu Lankin
Eliyahu Lankin
Eliyahu Lankin was a Revisionist Zionist activist, Irgun member and an Israeli politician.-Biography:Lankin was born in Gomel, and moved with his family to Manchuria at the age of three in the wake of the October Revolution. He studied at the Russian High School in Harbin. At the age of 16, he...

 tells in his book:
Immediately following the failure of Fighting Nation practical discussions began in the Irgun Headquarters regarding a declaration of war

The "Revolt"


In 1943 the Polish II Corps, commanded by Władysław Anders, arrived in Palestine from Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

. The British insisted that no Jewish units of the army be created. Eventually, many of the soldiers of Jewish origin that arrived with the army were released and allowed to stay in Palestine. One of them was Menachem Begin
Menachem Begin
' was a politician, founder of Likud and the sixth Prime Minister of the State of Israel. Before independence, he was the leader of the Zionist militant group Irgun, the Revisionist breakaway from the larger Jewish paramilitary organization Haganah. He proclaimed a revolt, on 1 February 1944,...

, whose arrival in Palestine created new-found expectations within the Irgun and Beitar. Begin had served as head of the Beitar movement in Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

, and was a respected leader. Yaakov Meridor
Yaakov Meridor
Ya'akov Meridor was a Revisionist Zionist activist, Irgun commander and Israeli politician.-Biography:Meridor was born in Poland in 1913, to a family of middle-class merchants. After hearing reports of the first Arab rebellion in Mandate Palestine, he became a member of the Betar Movement in 1930...

, then the commander of the Irgun, raised the idea of appointing Begin to the post. In late 1943, when Begin accepted the position, a new leadership was formed. Meridor became Begin's deputy, and other members of the board were Aryeh Ben Eliezer, Eliyahu Lankin, and Shlomo Lev Ami.

On February 1, 1944 the Irgun put up posters all around the country, proclaiming a revolt against the British mandatory government. The posters began by saying that all of the Zionist
Zionism
Zionism is a Jewish political movement that, in its broadest sense, has supported the self-determination of the Jewish people in a sovereign Jewish national homeland. Since the establishment of the State of Israel, the Zionist movement continues primarily to advocate on behalf of the Jewish state...

 movements stood by the Allied Forces
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

 and over 25,000 Jews had enlisted in the British military. The hope to establish a Jewish army had died. Throughout the war the Middle East Arabs had favoured Germany's side. European Jewry was trapped and was being destroyed, yet Britain, for its part, did not allow any rescue missions. This part of the document ends with the following words:
The White Paper is still in effect. It is enforced, despite the betrayal of the Arabs and the loyalty of the Jews; despite the mass enlisting to the British Army; despite the ceasefire
Ceasefire
A ceasefire is a temporary stoppage of a war in which each side agrees with the other to suspend aggressive actions. Ceasefires may be declared as part of a formal treaty, but they have also been called as part of an informal understanding between opposing forces...

 and the quiet in The Land of Israel; despite the massacre of masses of the Jewish people in Europe...

The facts are simple and horrible as one. Over the last four years of the war
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 we have lost millions of the best of our people; millions more are in danger of eradication. And The Land of Israel is closed off and quarantined because the British rule it, realizing the White Paper, and strives for the destruction of our people's last hope.


The Irgun then declared that, for its part, the ceasefire was over and they were now at war with the British. It demanded the transfer of rule to a Jewish government, to implement ten policies. Among these were the mass evacuation of Jews from Europe, the signing of treaties with any state that recognized the Jewish state's sovereignty, including Britain, granting social justice to the state's residents, and full equality to the Arab population. The proclamation ended with:
The God of Israel, God of Hosts, will be at our side. There is no retreat. Liberty or death. ...the fighting youth will not recoil in the face of sacrifices and suffering, blood and torment. They will not surrender, so long as our days of old are not renewed, so long as our nation is not ensured a homeland, liberty, honor, bread, justice and law.


The Irgun began this campaign rather weakly — the organization was only about 1,000 strong, out of which only some 200 were fighters. Weapons were also sparse. The Irgun underwent a reorganization and was redivided in different brigades: Combat Corps – the Irgun's primary fighting force; The Sea – the Irgun's special operations unit; Delek (דלק – Gasoline) – intelligence; HATAM ( חת"מ – Revolutionary Publicity Corps); and HAT (ח"ת – Planning Division). The Irgun became more secretive and its commanders assumed new identities and homes. Begin, for example, assumed a Rabbi's identity ("Yisrael Sasover"), and was sometimes known as "Ben Ze'ev" or "Dr. Kenigshopper".

Struggle against the British


The Irgun began a militant operation against the symbols of government, in an attempt to harm the regime's operation as well as its reputation. The first attack was on February 12, 1944 at the government immigration offices, a symbol of the immigration laws. The attacks went smoothly and ended with no casualties—as they took place on a Saturday night, when the buildings were empty—in the three largest cities: Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Haifa. On February 27 the income tax offices were bombed. Parts of the same cities were blown up, also on a Saturday night; prior warnings were put up near the buildings. On March 23 the national headquarters building of the British police in the Russian Compound
Migrash Harusim
The Russian Compound is one of the oldest districts in central Jerusalem, including a large Russian Orthodox church and several former pilgrim hostels which are used as government buildings and for the Museum of Underground Prisoners...

 in Jerusalem was attacked, and part of it was blown up. These attacks in the first few months were sharply condemned by the organized leadership of the Yishuv and by the Jewish Agency, who saw them as dangerous provocations.

At the same time the Lehi
Lehi (group)
Lehi , commonly referred to in English as the Stern Group or Stern Gang, was a militant Zionist group founded by Avraham Stern in the British Mandate of Palestine...

 also renewed its attacks against the British. The Irgun continued to attack police stations and headquarters, and Tegart Fort
Tegart fort
A Tegart fort is a style of militarized police "fortress" constructed throughout Palestine during the British Mandatory period.The forts are named after British police officer and engineer Sir Charles Tegart, who designed them in 1938 based on his experiences in the Indian insurgency.Tens of the...

, a fortified police station (today the location of Latrun
Latrun
Latrun is a strategic hilltop in the Ayalon Valley in Israel overlooking the road to Jerusalem. It is located 25 kilometers west of Jerusalem and 14 kilometers southeast of Ramla.-Etymology:...

). One relatively complex operation was overtaking of the governmental radio station in Ramallah
Ramallah
Ramallah is a Palestinian city in the central West Bank located 10 kilometers north of Jerusalem, adjacent to al-Bireh. It currently serves as the de facto administrative capital of the Palestinian National Authority...

, on May 17, 1944.

One symbolic act by the Irgun happened before Yom Kippur
Yom Kippur
Yom Kippur , also known as Day of Atonement, is the holiest and most solemn day of the year for the Jews. Its central themes are atonement and repentance. Jews traditionally observe this holy day with a 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue...

 of 1944. They plastered notices around town, warning that no British officers should come to the Western Wall
Western Wall
The Western Wall, Wailing Wall or Kotel is located in the Old City of Jerusalem at the foot of the western side of the Temple Mount...

 on Yom Kippur, and for the first time since the mandate began no British police officers were there to prevent the Jews from the traditional Shofar
Shofar
A shofar is a horn, traditionally that of a ram, used for Jewish religious purposes. Shofar-blowing is incorporated in synagogue services on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.Shofar come in a variety of sizes.- Bible and rabbinic literature :...

 blowing at the end of the fast. After the fast that year the Irgun attacked four police stations in Arab settlements. In order to obtain weapons, the Irgun carried out "confiscation" operations – they took over British armouries and smuggled stolen weapons to their own hiding places. During this phase of activity the Irgun also cut all of its official ties with the New Zionist Organization, so as not to tie their fate in the underground organization.

Begin wrote in his memoir
Memoir
A memoir , is a literary genre, forming a subclass of autobiography – although the terms 'memoir' and 'autobiography' are almost interchangeable. Memoir is autobiographical writing, but not all autobiographical writing follows the criteria for memoir set out below...

s, The Revolt:
History and experience taught us that if we are able to destroy the prestige of the British in Palestine, the regime will break. Since we found the enslaving government's weak point, we did not let go of it.

Underground exiles



In October 1944 the British began expelling hundreds of arrested Irgun and Lehi members to detention camps in Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

. 251 detainees from Latrun
Latrun
Latrun is a strategic hilltop in the Ayalon Valley in Israel overlooking the road to Jerusalem. It is located 25 kilometers west of Jerusalem and 14 kilometers southeast of Ramla.-Etymology:...

 were flown on thirteen planes, on October 19 to a camp in Asmara
Asmara
Asmara is the capital city and largest settlement in Eritrea, home to a population of around 579,000 people...

, Eritrea
Eritrea
Eritrea , officially the State of Eritrea, is a country in the Horn of Africa. Eritrea derives it's name from the Greek word Erethria, meaning 'red land'. The capital is Asmara. It is bordered by Sudan in the west, Ethiopia in the south, and Djibouti in the southeast...

. Eleven additional transports were made. Throughout the period of their detention, the detainees often initiated rebellions and hunger strikes. Many escape attempts were made until July 1948 when the exiles were returned to Israel. While there were numerous successful escapes from the camp itself, only nine men actually made it back all the way. One noted success was that of Yaakov Meridor
Yaakov Meridor
Ya'akov Meridor was a Revisionist Zionist activist, Irgun commander and Israeli politician.-Biography:Meridor was born in Poland in 1913, to a family of middle-class merchants. After hearing reports of the first Arab rebellion in Mandate Palestine, he became a member of the Betar Movement in 1930...

, who escaped nine times before finally reaching Europe in April 1948. These tribulations were the subject of his book Long is the Path to Freedom: Chronicles of one of the Exiles.

Hunting Season



On November 6, 1944, Lord Moyne
Walter Guinness, 1st Baron Moyne
Walter Edward Guinness, 1st Baron Moyne DSO & Bar PC was a Anglo-Irish politician and businessman. He served as the British minister of state in the Middle East until November 1944, when he was assassinated by the militant Jewish Zionist group Lehi...

, British Deputy Resident Minister of State in Cairo
Cairo
Cairo , is the capital of Egypt and the largest city in the Arab world and Africa, and the 16th largest metropolitan area in the world. Nicknamed "The City of a Thousand Minarets" for its preponderance of Islamic architecture, Cairo has long been a centre of the region's political and cultural life...

 was assassinated by Lehi members Eliyahu Hakim
Eliyahu Hakim
Eliyahu Hakim was a Lehi member who took part in the 1944 assassination of Lord Moyne, the British Minister Resident in the Middle East.Born in Beirut, Hakim moved to Mandatory Palestine with his family when he was seven. He grew up in the port city of Haifa. As a teenager, he joined Lehi, but...

 and Eliyahu Bet-Zuri
Eliyahu Bet-Zuri
Eliyahu Bet-Zuri was a member of Lehi, who was executed in Egypt for assassinating Lord Moyne, the British Minister Resident in the Middle East....

. This act raised concerns within the Yishuv from the British regime's reaction to the underground's violent acts against them. Therefore the Jewish Agency decided on starting a Hunting Season, known as the saison, (from the French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 "la saison de chasse"). During the Hunting Season people suspected of belonging to or supporting the Irgun or the Lehi were removed from schools, work places and the Klalit HMO
Health maintenance organization
A health maintenance organization is an organization that provides managed care for health insurance contracts in the United States as a liaison with health care providers...

. Most of the people who partook in these activities were members of the Haganah and the Palmach
Palmach
The Palmach was the elite fighting force of the Haganah, the underground army of the Yishuv during the period of the British Mandate of Palestine. The Palmach was established on May 15, 1941...

. They carried out surveillance, kidnapping, investigation of Irgun and Lehi members and either turned them over to the British, or provided details regarding their whereabouts. Among those turned over were members of the Irgun headquarters – Yaakov Meridor, Shlomo Lev Ami, and Eliyahu Lankin.

The Hunting Season managed to paralyze the Irgun's activity for a few months, but not destroy the organization. The Irgun's recuperation was noticeable when it began to renew its cooperation with the Lehi in May 1945, when it sabotaged oil pipelines, telephone lines and railroad bridges. All in all, over 1,000 members of the Irgun and Lehi were arrested and interred in British camps during the Saison. Eventually the Hunting Season died out, and there was even talk of cooperation with the Haganah leading to the formation of the Jewish Resistance Movement
Jewish Resistance Movement
The Jewish Resistance Movement , sometimes called United Resistance Movement , was an umbrella group for Jewish Resistance movements in the British Mandate of Palestine...

.

The Jewish Resistance Movement




Towards the end of July 1945 the Labour
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

 party in Britain was elected to power. The Yishuv leadership had high hopes that this would change the anti-Zionist policy that the British maintained at the time. However, these hopes were quickly dashed when the government limited Jewish immigration, with the intention that the population of Palestine west of the Jordan River would not be more than one third of the total. This, along with the stepping up of arrests and their pursuit of underground members and illegal immigration organizers led to the formation of the Jewish Resistance Movement. This body consolidated the armed resistance to the British of the Irgun, Lehi, and Haganah. For ten months the Irgun and the Lehi cooperated and they carried out nineteen attacks and defense operations. The Haganah and Palmach carried out ten such operations. The Haganah also assisted in landing 13,000 illegal immigrants.

Tension between the underground movements and the British increased with the increase in operations. On April 23, 1945 an operation undertaken by the Irgun to gain weapons from the Tegart fort
Tegart fort
A Tegart fort is a style of militarized police "fortress" constructed throughout Palestine during the British Mandatory period.The forts are named after British police officer and engineer Sir Charles Tegart, who designed them in 1938 based on his experiences in the Indian insurgency.Tens of the...

 at Ramat Gan went badly and gunfights broke out. One Irgun member was killed and his body was later hanged on the fort's fence. Another fighter, Yizchak Bilu, was killed as well in a diversionary ploy – an explosive device fell out of his hand, and he leapt onto it in order to save his comrades, who were also carrying explosives. A third fighter, Dov Gruner
Dov Gruner
Dov Gruner was a Jewish Zionist leader born in Kisvárda, Hungary on December 6, 1912. On April 19, 1947, he was executed by the British Mandatory authorities in Palestine on the charge of "firing on policemen, and setting explosive charges with the intent of killing personnel on His Majesty's...

, was caught. He stood trial and was sentenced to be death by hanging, refusing to sign a pardon request.

In 1946, British relations with the Yishuv worsened, building up to Operation Agatha
Operation Agatha
Operation Agatha sometimes called Black Shabbat or Black Saturday because it began on the Jewish sabbath, was a police and military operation conducted by the British authorities in the British Mandate of Palestine...

 of June 29. The authorities ignored the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry
Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry
The Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry was a joint British and American attempt in 1946 to agree upon a policy as regards the admission of Jews to Palestine. The Committee was tasked to consult representative Arabs and Jews on the problems of Palestine, and to make other recommendations 'as may be...

's recommendation to allow 100,000 Jews into Palestine at once. As a result of the discovery of documents tying the Jewish Agency to the Jewish Resistance Movement, the Irgun was asked to speed up the plans for the King David Hotel bombing
King David Hotel bombing
The King David Hotel bombing was an attack carried out by themilitant right-wing Zionist underground organization Irgun on the King David Hotel in Jerusalem on 22 July 1946...

 of July 22. The hotel was where the documents were located, the base for the British Secretariat, the military command and a branch of the Criminal Investigation Division
Criminal Investigation Division
Criminal Investigation Division may be:* United States Army Criminal Investigation Division, now the United States Army Criminal Investigation Command*IRS Criminal Investigation Division-See also:*United States Marine Corps Criminal Investigation Division...

 of the police. The Irgun later said that a warning sent out ahead of time was never taken seriously.

Further struggle against the British



The King David Hotel bombing and the arrest of Jewish Agency and other Yishuv leaders as part of Operation Agatha
Operation Agatha
Operation Agatha sometimes called Black Shabbat or Black Saturday because it began on the Jewish sabbath, was a police and military operation conducted by the British authorities in the British Mandate of Palestine...

 caused the Haganah to cease their armed activity against the British. Yishuv and Jewish Agency leaders were released from prison. From then until the end of the British mandate, resistance activities were led by the Irgun and Lehi. In early September 1946 the Irgun renewed its attacks against civil structures, railroads, communication lines and bridges. One operation was the attack on the train station in Jerusalem, in which Meir Feinstein
Meir Feinstein
Meir Feinstein was born in the Old City of Jerusalem. His parents, Bela and Eliezer, immigrated from Brisk. He was an Irgun operative who lost an arm on Oct. 30, 1946 while planting an Improvised Explosive Device in the railway station in Jerusalem, and was subsequently captured and sentenced to...

 was arrested and later committed suicide awaiting execution. According to the Irgun these sort of armed attacks were legitimate, since the trains primarily served the British, for redeployment of their forces. For a while the British stopped train traffic at night. The Irgun also publicized leaflets, in three languages, not to use specific trains in danger of being attacked. The Irgun also re-established many representative offices internationally, and by 1948 operated in 23 states. In these countries the Irgun sometimes acted against the local British representatives or led public relations campaigns against Britain. On October 31, 1946, in response to the British barring entry of Jews from Palestine, the Irgun blew up the British embassy in Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

.

In December 1946 a sentence of 18 years and 18 beatings was handed down to a young Irgun member. The Irgun made good on a threat they made and after the detainee was beaten, Irgun members kidnapped British officers and beat them in public. The operation, known as the "Night of the Beatings
Night of the Beatings
The Night of the Beating refers to an action taken by the Irgun on December 29, 1946 in the British Mandate of Palestine, in which several British soldiers were flogged in response to a similar punishment inflicted upon an Irgun member.-Background:...

" brought an end to British punitive beatings. The British, taking these acts seriously, moved many British families in Palestine into the confines of military bases, and some moved home.


On February 14, 1947, Ernest Bevin
Ernest Bevin
Ernest Bevin was a British trade union leader and Labour politician. He served as general secretary of the powerful Transport and General Workers' Union from 1922 to 1945, as Minister of Labour in the war-time coalition government, and as Foreign Secretary in the post-war Labour Government.-Early...

 announced that the Jews and Arabs would not be able to agree on any British proposed solution for the land, and therefore the issue must be brought to the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 (UN) for a final decision. The Yishuv thought of the idea to transfer the issue to the UN as a British attempt to achieve delay while a UN inquiry commission would be established, and its ideas discussed, and all the while the Yishuv would weaken. Foundation for Immigration B
Mossad Le'aliyah Bet
The Mossad LeAliyah Bet was a branch of the Haganah in the British Mandate of Palestine that operated to facilitate Jewish immigration to Palestine in violation of unilateral British restrictions. It operated from 1938 until the founding of the State of Israel in 1948...

 increased the number of ships which, in fact, saved the lives of European Jews. The British still strictly enforced the policy of limited Jewish immigration and illegal immigrants were placed in detention camps in Cyprus
Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

, which increased the anger of the Jewish community towards the mandate government.

The Irgun stepped up its activity and from February 19 until March 3 it attacked 18 British military camps, convoy routes, vehicles, and other facilities. The most notable of these attacks was the use of a car bomb to destroy the Goldschmidt House Officers Club in Jerusalem, which was in a heavily guarded compound. Seventeen officers were killed in the attack. As a result, a curfew
Curfew
A curfew is an order specifying a time after which certain regulations apply. Examples:# An order by a government for certain persons to return home daily before a certain time...

 was imposed over much of the country, enforced by approximately 20,000 British soldiers.

Some of the British press supported a British exit from Palestine. During the martial conditions imposed by the British, the Lehi and the Irgun carried out 68 armed attacks, many against military targets, including Schneller Orphanage
Schneller Orphanage
Schneller Orphanage was a Christian orphanage that operated in Jerusalem from 1860 until World War II. The orphanage grounds, located on Malchei Yisrael Street in central Jerusalem, became a British military base known as Camp Schneller. After 1948, the compound housed offices of the Israel...

 in Jerusalem, by breaking through the outer fortifications. This attack, which succeeded in overcoming the many British security measures, created a media uproar, and the curfew was cancelled four days later.
Executed Members of the Irgun
Olei Hagardom
Olei Hagardom refers to members of the pre-state Jewish underground who were tried in British Mandate courts and sentenced to death by hanging, most of them in Acre prison...

  • Shlomo Ben-Yosef
    Shlomo Ben-Yosef
    Shlomo Ben-Yosef was a noted member of the Revisionist Zionist underground Irgun...

  • Dov Gruner
    Dov Gruner
    Dov Gruner was a Jewish Zionist leader born in Kisvárda, Hungary on December 6, 1912. On April 19, 1947, he was executed by the British Mandatory authorities in Palestine on the charge of "firing on policemen, and setting explosive charges with the intent of killing personnel on His Majesty's...

  • Mordechai El'kachi
  • Yehiel Drezner
  • Eliezer Kashani
  • Yaakov Weiss
  • Avshalom Haviv
    Avshalom Haviv
    Avshalom Haviv , was a pre-Jewish state Irgun underground member and one of the 12 Olei Hagardom tried by the British Mandate courts and sentenced to death by hanging at Acre Prison.-Childhood and adolescence:...

  • Meir Nakar

The Acre Prison break



On April 16, 1947 Dov Gruner, Yehiel Drezner, Eliezer Kashani, and Mordechai El'kachi were hanged, while singing Hatikvah
Hatikvah
"Hatikvah" is the national anthem of Israel. The anthem was written by Naphtali Herz Imber, a secular Galician Jew from Zolochiv , who moved to the Land of Israel in the early 1880s....

. On April 21 Meir Feinstein
Meir Feinstein
Meir Feinstein was born in the Old City of Jerusalem. His parents, Bela and Eliezer, immigrated from Brisk. He was an Irgun operative who lost an arm on Oct. 30, 1946 while planting an Improvised Explosive Device in the railway station in Jerusalem, and was subsequently captured and sentenced to...

 and Lehi member Moshe Barazani
Moshe Barazani
Moshe Barazani, also Barzani , was an Iraqi Kurdish Jew and a member of Lehi . He was born in Baghdad to a Jewish family from Northern Iraq that moved to Jerusalem when he was an infant. He joined Lehi at an early age and took part in sabotage operations...

 blew themselves up, using an improvised explosive device
Improvised explosive device
An improvised explosive device , also known as a roadside bomb, is a homemade bomb constructed and deployed in ways other than in conventional military action...

 (IED), hours before their scheduled hanging. And on May 4 one of the Irgun's largest operations took place – the raid of the prison in the citadel in Acre
Acre, Israel
Acre , is a city in the Western Galilee region of northern Israel at the northern extremity of Haifa Bay. Acre is one of the oldest continuously inhabited sites in the country....

. The operation was carried out by 23 men, commanded by Dov Cohen – AKA "Shimshon", along with the help of the Irgun and Lehi
Lehi (group)
Lehi , commonly referred to in English as the Stern Group or Stern Gang, was a militant Zionist group founded by Avraham Stern in the British Mandate of Palestine...

 prisoners inside the prison. The raid allowed 41 underground members to escape, although some were caught outside of the prison, and some were killed in the escape. Along with the underground movement members, other criminals – including 214 Arabs – also escaped. Three of the attackers – Meir Nakar, Avshalom Haviv, and Yaakov Weiss – were caught and sentenced to death.

The Sergeants affair




After the death sentences of the three were confirmed, the Irgun tried to save them by kidnapping hostage
Hostage
A hostage is a person or entity which is held by a captor. The original definition meant that this was handed over by one of two belligerent parties to the other or seized as security for the carrying out of an agreement, or as a preventive measure against certain acts of war...

s — British sergeants Clifford Martin and Mervyn Paice — in the streets of Netanya
Netanya
Netanya is a city in the Northern Centre District of Israel, and is the capital of the surrounding Sharon plain. It is located north of Tel Aviv, and south of Haifa between the 'Poleg' stream and Wingate Institute in the south and the 'Avichail' stream in the north.Its of beaches have made the...

. British forces closed off and combed the area in search of the two, but did not find them. On July 29, 1947, in the afternoon, Meir Nakar, Avshalom Haviv, and Yaakov Weiss were executed. Approximately thirteen hours later the hostages were hanged in retaliation by the Irgun and their bodies, booby-trapped with an explosive, afterwards strung up from trees in woodlands south of Netanya. This action caused an outcry in Britain and was condemned both there and by Jewish leaders in Palestine.

This episode has been given as a major influence on the British decision to terminate the Mandate and leave Palestine. The United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP)
United Nations Special Committee on Palestine
The United Nations Special Committee on Palestine was formed in May 1947 in response to a United Kingdom government request that the General Assembly "make recommendations under article 10 of the Charter, concerning the future government of Palestine"...

 was also influenced by this and other actions. At the same time another incident was developing – the events of the ship Exodus 1947
Exodus (ship)
Exodus 1947 was a ship that carried Jewish emigrants, that left France on July 11, 1947, with the intent of taking its passengers to the British mandate for Palestine. Most of the emigrants were Holocaust survivor refugees, who had no legal immigration certificates to Palestine...

. The 4,500 Holocaust survivors on board were not allowed to enter Palestine. UNSCOP also covered the events. Some of its members were even present at Haifa
Haifa
Haifa is the largest city in northern Israel, and the third-largest city in the country, with a population of over 268,000. Another 300,000 people live in towns directly adjacent to the city including the cities of the Krayot, as well as, Tirat Carmel, Daliyat al-Karmel and Nesher...

 port when the putative immigrants were forcefully removed from their ship (later found to have been rigged with an IED by some of its passengers) onto the deportation ships, and later commented that this strong image helped them press for an immediate solution for Jewish immigration and the question of Palestine.

Two weeks later, the House of Commons convened for a special debate on events in Palestine, and concluded that their soldiers should be withdrawn as soon as possible.

The 1948 Arab-Israeli War


UNSCOP's conclusion was a unanimous decision to end the British mandate and majority opinion to divide the area west of the Jordan River between a Jewish state and an Arab state. During the UN's deliberations regarding the committee's recommendations the Irgun avoided initiating any attacks, so as not to influence the UN negatively on the idea of a Jewish state. On November 29 the UN General Assembly voted in favor of ending the mandate and establishing two states
1947 UN Partition Plan
The United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine was created by the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine in 1947 to replace the British Mandate for Palestine with "Independent Arab and Jewish States" and a "Special International Regime for the City of Jerusalem" administered by the United...

 on the land. That very same day the Irgun and the Lehi renewed their attacks on British targets. The next day the local Arabs began attacking the Jewish community, thus beginning the first stage of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War
1948 Arab-Israeli War
The 1948 Arab–Israeli War, known to Israelis as the War of Independence or War of Liberation The war commenced after the termination of the British Mandate for Palestine and the creation of an independent Israel at midnight on 14 May 1948 when, following a period of civil war, Arab armies invaded...

. The first attacks on Jews were in Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem, in and around Jaffa
Jaffa
Jaffa is an ancient port city believed to be one of the oldest in the world. Jaffa was incorporated with Tel Aviv creating the city of Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel. Jaffa is famous for its association with the biblical story of the prophet Jonah.-Etymology:...

, Bat Yam, Holon, and the Ha'Tikvah neighborhood in Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv , officially Tel Aviv-Yafo , is the second most populous city in Israel, with a population of 404,400 on a land area of . The city is located on the Israeli Mediterranean coastline in west-central Israel. It is the largest and most populous city in the metropolitan area of Gush Dan, with...

.

In the autumn of 1947 the Irgun membership was approximately 4,000 people. The goal of the organization at that point was the conquest of the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

 for the sake of the future Jewish state and preventing the Arab Legion
Arab Legion
The Arab Legion was the regular army of Transjordan and then Jordan in the early part of the 20th century.-Creation:...

 from driving out the Jewish community. The Irgun became almost an overt organization, establishing military bases in Ramat Gan and Petah Tikva
Petah Tikva
Petah Tikva known as Em HaMoshavot , is a city in the Center District of Israel, east of Tel Aviv.According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, at the end of 2009, the city's population stood at 209,600. The population density is approximately...

. It began recruiting openly, thus significantly increasing in size. During the war the Irgun fought alongside the Lehi and the Haganah in the front against the Arab attacks. At first the Haganah maintained a defensive policy, as it had until then, but after the Convoy of 35
Convoy of 35
The Convoy of 35 refers to 35 soldiers of the Haganah who were killed while attempting to resupply and or reinforce the Gush Etzion kibbutzim by foot on January 16, 1948, after a number of convoys had been attacked during the early stages of the 1947–1948 Civil War in Mandatory Palestine.- Attack...

 incident it completely abandoned its policy of restraint: "Distinguishing between individuals is no longer possible, for now – it is a war, and the even the innocent shall not be absolved."

The Irgun also began carrying out reprisal missions, as it had under David Raziel's command. At the same time though, it published announcements calling on the Arabs to lay down their weapons and maintain a ceasefire:
The National Military Organization has warned you, if the murderous attacks on Jewish civilians shall continue, its soldiers will penetrate your centers of activity and plague you. You have not heeded the warning. You continued to harm our brothers and murder them in wild cruelty. Therefore soldiers of the National Military Organization will go on the attack, as we have warned you.

...However even in these frenzied time, when Arab and Jewish blood is spilled at the British enslaver, we hereby call upon you... to stop the attacks and create peace between us. We do not want a war with you. We are certain that neither do you want a war with us...


However the mutual attacks continued. The Irgun attacked the Arab villages of Tira
Al-Tira (Haifa)
al-Tira was a Palestinian town located 7 kilometres south of Haifa.It was made up of five khirbets, including Khirbat al-Dayr where lie the ruins of St. Brocardus monastery and a cave complex with vaulted tunnels.-History:...

 near Haifa
Haifa
Haifa is the largest city in northern Israel, and the third-largest city in the country, with a population of over 268,000. Another 300,000 people live in towns directly adjacent to the city including the cities of the Krayot, as well as, Tirat Carmel, Daliyat al-Karmel and Nesher...

, Yehudiya ('Abassiya) in the center, and Shuafat
Shuafat
Shu'fat , also Shuafat and Sha'fat, is a Palestinian Arab neighborhood of East Jerusalem, forming part of north-eastern Jerusalem. Located on the old Jerusalem-Ramallah road about three miles north of the Old City, Shuafat has a population of 35,000 residents...

 by Jerusalem. The Irgun also attacked in the Wadi Rushmiya neighborhood in Haifa and Abu Kabir
Abu Kabir
Abu Kabir was a satellite village of Jaffa founded by Egyptians following Ibrahim Pasha's 1832 defeat of Turkish forces in Ottoman era Palestine. After Israel's establishment in 1948, the area became part of Tel Aviv...

 in Jaffa. On December 29 Irgun units arrived by boat to the Jaffa shore and a gunfight between them and Arab gangs ensued. The following day a bomb was thrown from a speeding Irgun car at a group of Arab men waiting to be hired for the day at the Haifa oil refinery, resulting in seven Arabs killed, and dozens injured. In response, some Arab workers attacked Jews in the area
Haifa Oil Refinery massacre
The Haifa Oil Refinery massacre took place on 30 December 1947. After operatives of the Zionist paramilitary organisation, the Irgun, threw a number of grenades at a crowd of 100 Arab day-labourers who had gathered outside the main gate of the then British-owned Haifa Oil Refinery looking for work,...

, killing 41. This sparked a Haganah response in Balad al-Sheykh, which resulted in the deaths of 60 civilians. The Irgun's goal in the fighting was to move the battles from Jewish populated areas to Arab populated areas. On January 1, 1948 the Irgun attacked again in Jaffa, its men entering the city dressed as British troops; later in the month it attacked in Beit Nabala, a base for many Arab fighters. On 5 January 1948 the Irgun detonated a lorry bomb outside Jaffa's Ottoman built Town Hall, killing 14 and injuring 19. In Jerusalem, two days later, Irgun members in a stolen police van rolled a barrel bomb into a large group of civilians who were waiting for a bus by the Jaffa Gate, killing around sixteen. In the pursuit that followed three of the attackers were killed and two taken prisoner.

In February the Irgun attacked traffic near Yehudiya ('Abassiya), Yazur, and Ramle. Irgun fighters participated in fights against Arab militants in Ramle and Qalqilyah
Qalqilyah
-Bibliography: p. -External links:**...

. On 29 February the Irgun blew up the Cairo to Haifa train shortly after it left Rehovot Railway Station
Rehovot Railway Station
Rehovot Railway Station is an Israel Railways passenger station located in the city of Rehovot. It serves the city, the Weizmann Institute of Science and the nearby science industries park, as well as the city of Ness Ziona...

 killing 29 British soldiers. The Irgun announcement said the bombing was in retaliation for the bombing of Ben Yehuda Street
Ben Yehuda Street
Ben Yehuda Street , known as the "Midrachov" is a major street in downtown Jerusalem, Israel. It is now a pedestrian mall and closed to vehicular traffic. The street runs from the intersection of King George Street to Zion Square and Jaffa Road...

, Jerusalem, a week earlier. An identical attack, on 31 March, killed forty people and injured 60 'when the Haifa-Cairo express train was blown up by electrically-detonated mines near the Jewish colony of Benyamina'. In March the Irgun attacked the village of Qaqun (near Tulkarem), which had many Arab militants among its residents. On 6 April 1948, the Irgun raided the British Army camp at Pardes Hanna killing six British soldiers and their commanding officer.

The Deir Yassin massacre
Deir Yassin massacre
The Deir Yassin massacre took place on April 9, 1948, when around 120 fighters from the Irgun Zevai Leumi and Lohamei Herut Israel Zionist paramilitary groups attacked Deir Yassin near Jerusalem, a Palestinian-Arab village of roughly 600 people...

 was carried out in a village west of Jerusalem that had signed a non-belligerency pact with its Jewish neighbors and the Haganah, and repeatedly had barred entry to foreign irregulars. On 9 April approximately 120 Irgun and Lehi members began an operation to capture the village. During the operation Irgun members shot at fleeing individuals and families. A Haganah report writes:
The conquest of the village was carried out with great cruelty. Whole families – women, old people, children – were killed. ... Some of the prisoners moved to places of detention, including women and children, were murdered viciously by their captors.

The operation resulted in five Irgun members dead and 40 injured and 100 to 120 dead villagers.

Some say that this incident was an event that accelerated the Arab exodus from Palestine.

The Irgun cooperated with the Haganah in the conquest of Haifa. At the regional commander's request, on April 21 the Irgun took over an Arab post above Hadar Ha'Carmel as well as the Arab neighborhood of Wadi Nisnas, adjacent to the Lower City.

The Irgun acted independently in the conquest of Jaffa (part of the proposed Arab State according to the UN Partition Plan). On April 25 Irgun units, about 600 strong, left the Irgun base in Ramat Gan towards Arab Jaffa. Difficult battles ensued, and the Irgun faced resistance from the Arabs as well as the British. Under the command of Amichai "Gidi" Paglin
Amichai Paglin
Amichai Paglin, code name “Gidi” , was the Chief Operations Officer of the Irgun, the commander of the battle to conquer Jaffa in the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, and, following independence, Prime Minister Menachem Begin’s counter-terrorism advisor.-Early life :Paglin's family immigrated from Lithuania...

, the Irgun's chief operations officer, the Irgun captured the neighborhood of Manshiya, which threatened the city of Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv , officially Tel Aviv-Yafo , is the second most populous city in Israel, with a population of 404,400 on a land area of . The city is located on the Israeli Mediterranean coastline in west-central Israel. It is the largest and most populous city in the metropolitan area of Gush Dan, with...

. Afterwards the force continued to the sea, towards the area of the port, and using mortars, shelled the southern neighborhoods.
In his report concerning the fall of Jaffa the local Arab military commander, Michel Issa, writes: 'Continuous shelling with mortars of the city by Jews for four days, beginning 25 April, [...] caused inhabitants of city, unaccustomed to such bombardment, to panic and flee.' According to Morris the shelling was done by the Irgun. Their objective was 'to prevent constant military traffic in the city, to break the spirit of the enemy troops [and] to cause chaos among the civilian population in order to create a mass flight'. High Commissioner Cunningham wrote a few days later 'It should be made clear that IZL attack with mortars was indiscriminate and designed to create panic among the civilian inhabitants'. These actions caused many Arab residents to flee the city, and 30 Irgun members were killed in the flight. The British demanded the evacuation of the newly conquered city, however the Irgun had previously agreed with the Haganah that British pressure would not lead to withdrawal from Jaffa and that custody of captured areas would be turned over to the Haganah. The city ultimately fell on May 13 after Haganah forces entered the city and took control of the rest of the city, from the south – part of the Hametz Operation which included the conquest of a number of villages in the area. The battles in Jaffa were a great victory for the Irgun. This operation was the largest in the history of the organization, which took place in highly built up area that had many militants in shooting positions. During the battles explosives were used in order to break into homes and continue forging a way though them. Furthermore, this was the first occasion in which the Irgun had directly fought British forces, reinforced with armor and heavy weaponry. The city began these battles with an Arab population estimated at 70,000, which shrank to some 4,100 Arab residents by the end of major hostilities. Since the Irgun captured the neighborhood of Manshiya on its own, causing the flight of many of Jaffa's residents, the Irgun took credit for the conquest of Jaffa.

Integration with the IDF and the Altalena Affair


On May 14, 1948 the establishment of the State of Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 was proclaimed. The declaration of independence was followed by the establishment of the Israel Defense Forces
Israel Defense Forces
The Israel Defense Forces , commonly known in Israel by the Hebrew acronym Tzahal , are the military forces of the State of Israel. They consist of the ground forces, air force and navy. It is the sole military wing of the Israeli security forces, and has no civilian jurisdiction within Israel...

 (IDF), and the process of absorbing all military organizations into the IDF started. On June 1, an agreement had been signed Between Menachem Begin
Menachem Begin
' was a politician, founder of Likud and the sixth Prime Minister of the State of Israel. Before independence, he was the leader of the Zionist militant group Irgun, the Revisionist breakaway from the larger Jewish paramilitary organization Haganah. He proclaimed a revolt, on 1 February 1944,...

 and Yisrael Galili
Yisrael Galili
Yisrael Galili was an Israeli politician, government minister and member of Knesset. Before Israel's independence in 1948, he had served as Chief of Staff of the Haganah.-Biography:...

 for the absorption of the Irgun into the IDF. One of the clauses stated that the Irgun had to stop smuggling arms. Meanwhile in France, Irgun representatives purchased a ship, renamed Altalena (a pseudonym of Ze'ev Jabotinsky), and weapons. The ship sailed on June 11 and arrived at the Israeli coast on June 20 in violation of the four-week ceasefire agreement in the ongoing war with the neighbouring Arab states and the United Nations Security Council Resolution 50
United Nations Security Council Resolution 50
United Nations Security Council Resolution 50, adopted on May 29, 1948, called upon all governments and authorities involved in the conflict in Palestine to order a cessation of all acts of armed force of four weeks, to refrain from introducing any fighting personnel into Palestine, Egypt, Iraq,...

.

When the ship arrived the Israeli government, headed by Ben Gurion
Ben Gurion
Ben Gurion can refer to the following persons:* Nicodemus ben Gurion, a Biblical figure, probably a rich Jewish member of the Sanhedrin that felt sympathetic to Jesus Christ...

, was adamant in its demand that the Irgun surrender and hand over all of the weapons. Ben Gurion said: We must decide whether to hand over power to Begin or to order him to cease his activities. If he does not do so, we will open fire! Otherwise, we must decide to disperse our own army.


There were two confrontations between the newly formed IDF and the Irgun: when Altalena reached Kfar Vitkin
Kfar Vitkin
Kfar Vitkin is a moshav in central Israel. Located near Netanya, it falls under the jurisdiction of Hefer Valley Regional Council and was the first Jewish settlement in the valley. In 2007 it had a population of 1,700....

 in the late afternoon of Sunday, June 20 many Irgun militants, including Begin, waited on the shore. A clash with the Alexandroni Brigade
Alexandroni Brigade
The Alexandroni Brigade is an Israel Defense Forces brigade that fought in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. Along with the 7th Armoured Brigade both units had 139 killed during the first battle of Latrun - Operation Ben Nun Alef .The unit is currently a reserve unit.-Katz controversy:In 1998, Teddy Katz...

, commanded by Dan Even (Epstein), occurred. Fighting ensued and there were a number of casualties on both sides. The clash ended in a ceasefire and the transfer of the weapons on shore to the local IDF commander, and with the ship, now reinforced with local Irgun members, including Begin, sailing to Tel Aviv, where the Irgun had more supporters.
Many Irgun members, who joined the IDF earlier that month, left their bases and concentrated on the Tel Aviv beach. A confrontation between them and the IDF units started. In response, Ben-Gurion ordered Yigael Yadin
Yigael Yadin
Yigael Yadin on 21 March 1917, died 28 June 1984) was an Israeli archeologist, politician, and the second Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces.-Early life and military career:...

 (acting Chief of Staff) to concentrate large forces on the Tel Aviv beach and to take the ship by force. Heavy guns were transferred to the area and at four in the afternoon, Ben-Gurion ordered the shelling of the Altalena. One of the shells hit the ship, which began to burn.
Sixteen Irgun fighters were killed in the confrontation with the army; six were killed in the Kfar Vitkin area and ten on Tel Aviv beach. Three IDF soldiers were killed: two at Kfar Vitkin and one in Tel Aviv.

After the shelling of the Altalena, more than 200 Irgun fighters were arrested. Most of them were freed several weeks later. The Irgun militants were then fully integrated with the IDF and not kept in separate units.

The initial agreement for the integration of the Irgun into the IDF did not include Jerusalem, which was under siege
Siege
A siege is a military blockade of a city or fortress with the intent of conquering by attrition or assault. The term derives from sedere, Latin for "to sit". Generally speaking, siege warfare is a form of constant, low intensity conflict characterized by one party holding a strong, static...

. The Irgun operated an armed group known as the Jerusalem Battalion, numbering around 400 fighters. Following the assassination of UN Envoy for Peace Folke Bernadotte
Folke Bernadotte
Folke Bernadotte, Count of Wisborg was a Swedish diplomat and nobleman noted for his negotiation of the release of about 31,000 prisoners from German concentration camps during World War II, including 450 Danish Jews from Theresienstadt released on 14 April 1945...

 by the LEHI
Lehi
Lehi refers to:In Mormonism:* Lehi , a prophet in the Book of Mormon of the 7th-6th centuries BC* Lehi, son of Helaman, another prophet in the Book of Mormon of the late 1st century BC...

 in September 1948, this separate unit collapsed and integrated into the IDF.

Criticism



References to the Irgun as a terrorist organization came from sources including the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry
Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry
The Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry was a joint British and American attempt in 1946 to agree upon a policy as regards the admission of Jews to Palestine. The Committee was tasked to consult representative Arabs and Jews on the problems of Palestine, and to make other recommendations 'as may be...

, newspapers and a number of prominent world and Jewish figures.
Leaders within the mainstream Jewish organizations, the Jewish Agency, Haganah
Haganah
Haganah was a Jewish paramilitary organization in what was then the British Mandate of Palestine from 1920 to 1948, which later became the core of the Israel Defense Forces.- Origins :...

 and Histadrut
Histadrut
HaHistadrut HaKlalit shel HaOvdim B'Eretz Yisrael , known as the Histadrut, is Israel's organization of trade unions. Established in December 1920 during the British Mandate for Palestine, it became one of the most powerful institutions of the State of Israel.-History:The Histadrut was founded in...

, as well as the British authorities, routinely condemned Irgun operations as terrorism
Terrorism
Terrorism is the systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion. In the international community, however, terrorism has no universally agreed, legally binding, criminal law definition...

 and branded it an illegal organization as a result of the group's attacks on civilian targets. However, privately at least the Haganah kept a dialogue with the dissident groups.
Ironically, in early 1947, "the British army in Mandate Palestine banned the use of the term 'terrorist' to refer to the Irgun zvai Leumi ... because it implied that British forces had reason to be terrified,"

Irgun attacks prompted a formal declaration from the World Zionist Congress in 1946, which strongly condemned "the shedding of innocent blood as a means of political warfare."

The Israeli government, in September 1948, acting in response to the assassination of Count Folke Bernadotte
Folke Bernadotte
Folke Bernadotte, Count of Wisborg was a Swedish diplomat and nobleman noted for his negotiation of the release of about 31,000 prisoners from German concentration camps during World War II, including 450 Danish Jews from Theresienstadt released on 14 April 1945...

, outlawed the Irgun and Lehi
Lehi (group)
Lehi , commonly referred to in English as the Stern Group or Stern Gang, was a militant Zionist group founded by Avraham Stern in the British Mandate of Palestine...

 groups, declaring them terrorist organizations under the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance.

In 1948, The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

published a letter signed by a number of prominent Jewish figures including Hannah Arendt
Hannah Arendt
Hannah Arendt was a German American political theorist. She has often been described as a philosopher, although she refused that label on the grounds that philosophy is concerned with "man in the singular." She described herself instead as a political theorist because her work centers on the fact...

, Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of general relativity, effecting a revolution in physics. For this achievement, Einstein is often regarded as the father of modern physics and one of the most prolific intellects in human history...

, Sidney Hook
Sidney Hook
Sidney Hook was an American pragmatic philosopher known for his contributions to public debates.A student of John Dewey, Hook continued to examine the philosophy of history, of education, politics, and of ethics. After embracing Marxism in his youth, Hook was known for his criticisms of...

, and Rabbi
Rabbi
In Judaism, a rabbi is a teacher of Torah. This title derives from the Hebrew word רבי , meaning "My Master" , which is the way a student would address a master of Torah...

 Jessurun Cardozo
Jessurun Cardozo
Rabbi David Abraham Jessurun Cardozo was a Dutch-born American Sephardic Rabbi who served as assistant minister of the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue in New York City, the oldest synagogue in the United States and was the first rabbi to conduct High Holidays services in Spain since the Alhambra...

, which described Irgun as a "a terrorist, right-wing, chauvinist organization in Palestine". The letter went on to state that Irgun and the Stern gang "inaugurated a reign of terror in the Palestine Jewish community. Teachers were beaten up for speaking against them, adults were shot for not letting their children join them. By gangster methods, beatings, window-smashing, and widespread robberies, the terrorists intimidated the population and exacted a heavy tribute."

Soon after World War II, Winston Churchill said "we should never have stopped immigration before the war", but that the Irgun were "the vilest gangster
Gangster
A gangster is a criminal who is a member of a gang. Some gangs are considered to be part of organized crime. Gangsters are also called mobsters, a term derived from mob and the suffix -ster....

s" and that he would "never forgive the Irgun terrorists."

A US military intelligence report, dated January 1948, described Irgun recruiting tactics amongst Displaced Persons (DP) in the camps across Germany:
'Irgun ... seems to be concentrating on the DP police force. This is an old technique in Eastern Europe and in all police states. By controlling the police, a small, unscrupulous group of determined people can impose its will on a peaceful and inarticulate majority; it is done by threats, intimidation, by violence and if need be bloodshed ... they have embarked upon a course of violence within the camps.'


Clare Hollingworth
Clare Hollingworth
Clare Hollingworth is a British journalist and author who is noted as the first war correspondent to report the outbreak of World War II.-Career:...

, the Daily Telegraph and The Scotsman
The Scotsman
The Scotsman is a British newspaper, published in Edinburgh.As of August 2011 it had an audited circulation of 38,423, down from about 100,000 in the 1980s....

correspondent in Jerusalem during 1948 wrote several outspoken reports after spending several weeks in West Jerusalem
West Jerusalem
West Jerusalem refers to:*The section of Jerusalem captured by Israel following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.*The western neighborhoods of Jerusalem today.-Division in 1948:...

:


'Irgun is in fact rapidly becoming the 'SS' of the new state. There is also a strong 'Gestapo' – but no-one knows who is in it.'

In 2006, Simon McDonald, the British ambassador in Tel Aviv, and John Jenkins, the Consul-General in Jerusalem, wrote in response to a pro-Irgun commemoration of the King David Hotel bombing
King David Hotel bombing
The King David Hotel bombing was an attack carried out by themilitant right-wing Zionist underground organization Irgun on the King David Hotel in Jerusalem on 22 July 1946...

: "We do not think that it is right for an act of terrorism, which led to the loss of many lives, to be commemorated." They also called for the removal of plaques at the site which presented as a fact that the deaths were due to the British ignoring warning calls. The plaques, in their original version, read:


"Warning phone calls had been made urging the hotel’s occupants to leave immediately. For reasons known only to the British the hotel was not evacuated and after 25 minutes the bombs exploded, and to the Irgun’s regret and dismay 91 persons were killed."


McDonald and Jenkins said that no such warning calls were made, adding that even if they had, "this does not absolve those who planted the bomb from responsibility for the deaths."

Ha'aretz columnist and Israeli historian Tom Segev
Tom Segev
Tom Segev is an Israeli historian, author and journalist. He is associated with Israel's so-called New Historians, a group challenging many of the country's traditional narratives.-Early life:Segev was born in Jerusalem in 1945...

 wrote of the Irgun: "In the second half of 1940, a few members of the Irgun Zvai Leumi (National Military Organization) – the anti-British terrorist group sponsored by the Revisionists and known by its acronym Etzel, and to the British simply as the Irgun – made contact with representatives of Fascist Italy, offering to cooperate against the British."

Alan Dershowitz
Alan Dershowitz
Alan Morton Dershowitz is an American lawyer, jurist, and political commentator. He has spent most of his career at Harvard Law School where in 1967, at the age of 28, he became the youngest full professor of law in its history...

 wrote in his book The Case for Israel
The Case for Israel
The Case for Israel is a New York Times bestseller by Alan Dershowitz, a law professor at Harvard University. The book responds to common criticisms of Israel....

that unlike the Haganah, the policy of the Irgun had been to encourage the flight of local Arabs.

See also

  • List of Irgun attacks
  • List of notable Irgun members
  • Konrad Adenauer (Assassination attempt)
  • Zionist political violence
    Zionist political violence
    Zionist political violence refers to acts of violence committed by Zionists in the British Mandate of Palestine for political reasons, mainly to advance the creation of Israel, a Jewish state....

  • Jewish religious terrorism
  • Nationalist terrorism
    Nationalist terrorism
    Nationalist terrorism is a form of terrorism motivated by nationalism. Nationalist terrorists seek to form self-determination in some form, which may range from gaining greater autonomy to establishing a completely independent, sovereign state...


Further reading

  • J. Bowyer Bell
    J. Bowyer Bell
    J. Bowyer Bell was an American historian, artist and art critic.-Background and early life:Bell was born into an Episcopalian family on 15 November 1931 in New York City. The family later moved to Alabama, from where Bell attended Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, majoring in...

    , Terror Out of Zion: Irgun Zvai Leumi, Lehi, and the Palestine Underground, 1929-1949, (Avon, 1977), ISBN 0-380-39396-4
  • Menachem Begin
    Menachem Begin
    ' was a politician, founder of Likud and the sixth Prime Minister of the State of Israel. Before independence, he was the leader of the Zionist militant group Irgun, the Revisionist breakaway from the larger Jewish paramilitary organization Haganah. He proclaimed a revolt, on 1 February 1944,...

    , The Revolt – Memoirs of the leader of the Irgun, Dell Books, (New York, NY, 1978)

The Irgun in Fiction

  • Tintin au Pays de l'Or Noir, by Herge
    Hergé
    Georges Prosper Remi , better known by the pen name Hergé, was a Belgian comics writer and artist. His best known and most substantial work is the 23 completed comic books in The Adventures of Tintin series, which he wrote and illustrated from 1929 until his death in 1983, although he was also...

    . Original Version, 1971.
  • The Hope, by Herman Wouk
    Herman Wouk
    Herman Wouk is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American author of novels including The Caine Mutiny, The Winds of War, and War and Remembrance.-Biography:...

    , 1993.
  • Dawn (Wiesel novel), by Eli Wiesel, 1961.

External links