Irgun Zvai Leumi Eretz Yisrael (acronym: ETZEL) ארגון צבאי לאומי ארץ ישראל - אצ״ל The National Military Organization in Eretz Israel was an underground Hebrew military organization founded in Jerusalem in 1931. The organization was created by commanders who left the Haganah organization because of their demand for decisive action against the Arab aggression of the time, particularly the riots in 1929. Most of these men were member of the BETA"R Revisionist Youth Movement. For reasons of secrecy, the organization was not called "Haganah" or "Ha'Ma'amad".
In the pre-state period, ETZE"L was considered to be a terrorist organization by the British Mandate government as well as by some of its opponents and other bodies such as the Anglo-American Commission of Inquiry on Palestine, the Jewish Agency and international newspapers.
Some historians regard the struggle in which ETZE"L took part as a significant factor in the British exodus from Eretz Israel. Other historians disagreed and viewed the disobedience of the "dissidents", ETZE"L and LEH"I, and their activities as not being a significant factor in the British withdrawal.
Table of Contents
- 1 Establishment and Its Character
- 1.1 Structure, Command and Symbols
- 2 History
- 2.1 From Establishment to the First Split
- 2.1.1 Establishment
- 2.1.2 Outbreak of the Arab Revolt
- 2.1.3 The First Split
- 2.2 From the First Split to the Outbreak of World War II
- 2.2.1 Abandoning Restraint
- 2.2.2 Publication of the White Paper and Initial Actions Against the British
- 2.2.3 Routine Activity
- 2.2.4 Illegal Immigration
- 2.3 The Outbreak of World War II until the Appointment of Begin as Commander
- 2.3.1 Standing with the British
- 2.3.2 The Second Split
- 2.3.3 The Death of Raziel and the "Nation Warriors"
- 2.4 Struggle Against the British from 1944 until the End of World War II
- 2.4.1 Appointment and the Declaration of Revolt
- 2.4.2 The Beginning of the Struggle Against the British
- 2.4.3 The Underground Exiles
- 2.4.4 The Saison
- 2.5 The Jewish Resistance Movement
- 2.5.1 Establishment of the Jewish Resistance Movement
- 2.5.2 Operations of the Movement
- 2.5.3 The Bombing of the King David Hotel
- 2.6 Independent Struggle Against the British Until Their Departure
- 2.6.1 Renewal of Attacks on the British
- 2.6.2 Olei Ha'Gardom and the Acre Prison Break
- 2.6.3 The Sergeants Indcident
- 2.6.4 End of British Rule
- 2.7 War of Independence
- 2.7.1 The Beginning of the War
- 2.7.2 The Agreements with Haganah and the Yishuv
- 2.7.3 Deir Yassin
- 2.7.4 Fighting in Jaffa and the Conquest of Manshiyeh
- 2.7.5 Integration of ETZE"L into the IDF
- 2.7.6 Altalena
- 2.7.7 ETZE"L in Jerusalem
- 2.7.8 Founding of the Herut Movement
- 3 Language and Terminology
- 4 The Legacy of the Organization and its Commemoration
- 4.1 The ETZE"L Museum
- 5 See Also
- 6 Further Reading
- 7 External Links
- 8 Footnotes
1 Establishment and Its Character
- Supreme Commander 1937-1940: Ze'ev Jabotinsky
- 1931-1937: Avraham Tehomi
- 1937: Robert Bitker
- 1937-1938: Moshe Rosenberg
- 1938-1941: David Raziel
- 1941-1943: Ya'akov Meridor
- 1943-1948: Menachem Begin
ETZE"L members came mainly from the ranks of the BETA"R and the Revisionist Movement in Eretz Israel and the Disapora. The Revisionist Movement provided a public front for the underground organization. Ze'ev Jabotinsky, the founder of Revisionist Zionism, was the supreme leader of the organization until his death. He defined the general lines of the organization's activities, as in the matter of restraint and destruction, and the members of the underground operated in accordance with the inspiration of his teachings. At the same time, ETZE"L's formal subordination to an external political leadership weakened over the years. Other ideological sources for their fighting spirit came from Brit Habiryonim and the poetry of Uri Zvi Greenberg. The emblem of the organization, "Just This" and next to it a hand holding a rifle against a background of Eretz Israel on both sides of the Jordan River, expressed the aspiration for Hebrew independence for the entire Eretz Israel which could only be achieved through the use of Hebrew weapons. The symbol was first conceived by Lili Strassman-Lubinski, an activist in the Revisionist Movement in Poland and the editor of the organization's newpaper, "Liberated Jerusalem" which was the weekly paper of ETZE"L in Poland. This symbol later became the symbol of ETZE"L and was designed by Yehoshua Edri, illustrator and cartoonist of the Revisionist newspaper "The Observer".
The number of the organization's members changed over the years, ranging from a few hundred in crisis years to several thousand in peak periods. Most of them were people who accepted the authority of the Underground, and carried out their tasks and roles in the organization (often in defiance of British laws). They were mostly "ordinary" people from the Yishuv who had regular jobs with only a few dozen that dealt exclusively with the organization.
The elected political leadership of the Yishuv and the World Zionist Organization shared both strategy and basic ideology with ETZE"L as well as political and military tactics on many subjects such as, the use of force and weapons to achieve the aims of Zionism, the attitude toward the Arab population during riots and relations with Britain which controlled Eretz Israel. ETZE"L, however, would ignore the decisions of the Zionist leadership and the Yishuv institutions. The failure of ETZE"L members to accept their authority and disagreements about ideology, the opposite of the Histadrut Labor Federation which dominated the Zionist organization, led the elected institutions to rule out the independent existence of ETZE"L and for most of its existence, this "dissident" organization were seen as irresponsible and one whose actions needed to be watched closely. So, ETZE"L accompanied it armed activities with political propaganda whose purpose was to convince the public of the justice of their cause and denounce the failures, in their view, of the policies of the official Yishuv leadership, even operating the first independent Hebrew radio station, "The Voice of Fighting Zion".
The age of the organization's members was mostly between 16 to 25, with the majority being single men and single women. There were more immigrants than native-born Israelis. 27% were of Sephardic origin, almost the same as their percentage of the Jewish population of Israel. The percentage of women in ETZE"L was about 15%, and assuming the total number of members, that represented about 6,200 women.
1.1 Structure, Command and Symbols
As an underground organization, their friends did not call them by their official name but instead used various nicknames. In the first years it was mainly known as the "National Defense" and also used the names "Organization B," "Haganah B," the "Parallel Organization" and the "Rightist Organization." In later years the organization was referred to as "the Class" and "the Heart" and "the Liman." The anthem was the song "Unknown Soldiers" written by Avraham Stern (Yair) a commander in the organization. Following Stern's departure from ETZE"L to form LEH"I, the anthem was changed to the three stanzas of the poem "Shir Betar" by Ze'ev Jabotinsky that had been set to music.
Starting in 1933, about two years after its creation, ETZE"L operated under a "supervisory board" of representatives of most of the Zionist parties. After the organization split in 1937, it was primarily supporters of Ze'ev Jabotinsky and politically subordinate to him. After his death (NB: Jabotinsky died in 1940.) there were contacts made with the political leadership of the New Zionist Organization. The connection between the legal organization and the underground organization was severed in 1944 when ETZE"L declared war on British rule and since then has stood on its own.
Within the organization, Avraham Tehomi was the first to serve as ראש מפקדה Chief of Headquarters or מפקד ראשי Chief Commander. Tehomi had a headquarters. When the organization expanded, מחוזות Districts were formed. A local ETZE"L unit was called a סניף snip/Branch. A plugah/company contained three platoons that were also called גונדות gondot/platoons. A gunda consisted of two קבוצה kovutsah groups, at the head of each group was a ראש קבוצה resh kovutsah/Head of Group and Segen. This was the basic unit. Later, ETZE"L created various platoons that were led by a mateh or a merkaz. A sytem of ranks came into use later, listed (in ascending order):
- ראש קבוצה Resh Kovutsah/Head of Group,
- סמל Semel/Sergeant (of a Gonda),
- סמל א׳ Semel Alef/Sergeant A (of a Company),
- רב סמל Rav Semel/Sergeant Major (of a Battalion);
- גונ Gonder (District or Unit Commander) and
- גונ Gonder Rishon (Senior Commander).
ETZE"L saw itself as a military organization and this expressed itself in two areas:
- Performing meticulous march exercises, conducting ceremonial drills and maintining discipline, procedure and respect among the various ranks
- Conducting organized training programs. Practice shooting a pistol and machine guns, throwing grenades and combined assaults on targets. ETZE"L published professional publications on combat theory, weapons, training, marching, etc. These publications included the book "The Gun" written by David Raziel and Avraham Stern with 240 pages, "Close Order Drills and Intervals" also by David Raziel with 284 pages. Until the 1936-1939 Arab riots, Haganah instructors sometimes used these guides (after which the Haganah issued their own military publications and training manuals).
Up to World War II, ETZE"L had been able to arm itself by smuggling arms purchased in Europe, primarily from Italy and Poland. At first they bought guns and rifles but later also purchased submachine guns. In addition to the weapons, they also established workshops to manufacture spare parts and accessories for the weapons. As early as 1936, the first attempts were made to manufacture weapons, mines and other arms in the workshops and warehouses of supporters. In 1939 the production of more advanced pressure-operated mines began and used to blow up railroad tracks. In the 1940s they also made good use of petards (grenades to shock and stun) to carry aout assaults. In addition to the mines and grenades, in 1947 several thousand Sten submachine guns and 52mm mortars were manufactured. Another way they obtained weapons was through "confiscations" - raids carried out to steal weapons from the British police and army.
At first, the new organization was not accepted by the Haganah and Histadrut prevented workers from joining. Later, a rift broke out between the ETZE"L camp and the leadership of the Yishuv with constant hostility between the two. In the 1930s, most of ETZE"L activities were concentrated on the defense of settlements and armed actions against Arabs in Eretz Israel, who broke "the restraint" against riots directed at the Jews of the land. This stood in contrast to Haganah which adopted a more defensive stance. When the White Paper was published in 1939, ETZE"L also began to act against the British, but when World War II broke out, ETZE"L decided not to fight the British as they had before with some of their members even joining the Allied armies. Differences regarding the armistice with the British created a new split within ETZE"L that led to the formation of Fighters for the Freedom of Israel (LEH"I). Toward the end of the war as rumors of the Holocaust spread and the continued White Paper policy of restricting immigration to Eretz Israel, ETZE"L declared a renewed armed struggle against regime with the aim of expelling them from the land and creating an independent Jewish state in its place. So in 1945, ETZE"L joined the Jewish Resistance Movement to fight against the British. The movement was dismantled after the bombing of the King David Hotel and the subsequent withdrawal of Haganah from the struggle while ETZE"L and LEH"I continued fighting. Among the prominent activities the groups carried out was the break-in at the Acre Prison and the Hanging of the Sergeants incident. (NB: A revenge killing by ETZE"L of British soldiers in July 1947.) After the British left and during the War of Independence, ETZE"L fighters fought on the various fronts one of their important operations was the conquest of the Manshiyeh neighborhood in Jaffa. Following an agreement with the government, on 1 June ETZE"L units joined the IDF. But on 22 June 1948, a confrontation occurred between the government and ETZE"L over the ETZE"L refusal to accept the authority of the state and the arrival of a ship carrying weapons and ammunition for ETZE"L, the Altalena Affair during which the IDF shelled the ship. In September 1948 ETZE"L was disbanded and the organization was finally fully integrated into the IDF.
2.1 From the Establishment of the Organization until the First Split
2.1.1 The Establishment of ETZE"L
The ETZE"L began to split off from the Jerusalem Branch of Haganah in 1931. A large groups of branch members, led by Avraham (Gideon) Tehomi (Silberg) who commanded the branch until shortly before the split, came to resent the Haganah leadership particularly after the 1929 riots. The group opposed the "policy of restraint" toward the Arabs in Eretz Israel and wanted to have an organization that was more like a military with a defined chain of command instead of a militia; they demanded that the organization, that at the time was controlled by the Histadrut, should be subordinate to the national institutions.
On 30 April 1931 while preparing for the Feast of Nebi Musa, the commanders and equipment managers announced that they refused to return to the Haganah warehouses the weapons that they had been issued. After negotiations with the Haganah leadership, Tehomi ordered the return of the weapons in exchange for a discussion in the National Institutions of the issues that had been raised by him and his men. However, after the weapons had been returned and the demands of his people left unanswered, the commander of the dissidents sent a message to the managers of the National Committee announcing their resignation from the organization, leading them to split off and create a new independent organization.
Avraham Tehomi headed the newly established underground organization along with other founders - Eliyahu Ben Gera, Avraham Ben Zivm Avraham Giora Kritchevsky - all of them former senior commanders in Haganah, members of the HaPo'el Hatza'ir Party and members of the Histadrut. Eliahu Ben Horin (Binder), an activist in the Revisionist Movement, was also a partner. This group was called the 'Odessa Group' because they had previously been self-defense activists of the Jews of Odessa. At the start of 1924 under his leadership and Ben Horin's command, an underground cell called 'The Factory' was created within the Sharon Group that might have been implicated in the murder of Ya'akov Israel de Haan. It was decided to name the new organization Irgun Zvai Leumi 'The National Military Organization', a name that highlighted its activist stance compared to Haganah. It aspired to be a military organization instead of a militia like Haganah was at the time.
In the fall of that year, the organization merged with armed groups from Jerusalem affiliated with the BETA"R Movement. Their main strength was concentrated in the Tel Aviv area and they began their activities in 1928 when the "BETA"R Officers and Guides School" was setup. Members of the Mossad also retired from the ranks of the Haganah for political reasons and formed a new organization that called itself the "National Defense". During the 1929 riots, BETA"R youth under the command of Yirmiyahu Halperin participated in the defense of Tel Aviv neighborhoods after a call by the Tel Aviv municipality. In this organization, Moshe Rosenberg was in charge of the weapons and their acquisition. After this, the Tel Aviv group expanded and was called the "Rightist Organization." It then united with the new Jerusalem organization.
After the ETZE"L expanded into Tel Aviv, a branch was also established in Haifa. At the end of 1932, the Haganah branch in Safed also went over to ETZE"L. Young members of the Maccabi Sports Movement also joined the young organization. At the same time, a clandestine undergroung newspaper called "The Fortress" began publishing and expressed support for their activist stance. ETZE"L also expanded its ranks through the growth of the BETA"R Recruiting Companies - groups of young people who volunteered to serve for two-years in either defense or pioneering (NB: working at settlements) work. The new units were established in the settlements of Yesod HaMa'ala, Mishmar, Hayarden, Rosh Pina, Metula, Nahariya, Hadera, Bat Shlomo, Binyamina, Givat Ada, Netanya, Herzliya, Kiryat Shaul, Petah Tikva, Magdiel; and south in Rishon Letzion, Rehovot, Nes Tziona, Ekron, and Be'er Ya'akov. Later, companies were also created and operated in the Old City of Jerusalem (the "Western Wall Companies"), Tel Zur and Nahalat Yitzhak. The main training centers were located in Ramat Gan, Tel Litvinsky, Kalmania (near Kfar Saba), Kastina (near Be'er Tuvia), Nahalat Yitzhak and Ramat Tiomkin (near Netanya).
In August 1933 the ETZE"L 'Supervisory Board' was formed with representatives from most of the non-functioning (NB:??? cannot find a good definition for הלא פועליות alia poaliot. Maybe non-working?? but still not very clear what is meant.) Zionist parties. Meir Grossman (from the Hebrew State Party), Rabbi Meir Bar-Ilan (from the Mizrachi), Emanuel Newman or Yehoshua Supersky (of the General Zionists), and Ze'ev Jabotinsky or Eliahu Ben Horin (from the HATZAHA"R - Revisionists).
2.1.2 Outbreak of the Arab Revolt
Between 1931 and 1936 a relative calm prevailed in Eretz Israel with the exception of a brief Arab uprising against the British regime in 1933 that was quickly suppressed by the authorities. During this period ETZE"L operated similarly to Haganah, serving as a security organization that maintained readiness. The two organizations also cooperated in their deployments and even mutual intelligence sharing
On 19 April 1936, the Great Arab Revolt, also known as the 1936-1939 Event, broke out. Armed Arab gangs, reinforced by Syrian and Iraqi volunteers, carried out terrorist attacks that included ambushes and explosions on roads and towns, and riots that damaged Jewish property and agriculture. In the first phase which lasted from april to the end of October, 80 Jews were killed, 369 injured, 19 schools were attacked along with 9 orphanages and 3 adult homes. There were some 380 attacks on trains and buses and about 17,000 dunams of agricultural land destroyed. (NB: A dunam is 1000 square meters, so 17,000 dunams is about 4,200 acres or 6.5 square miles. Destroy the land?? Did they sow salt or other chemicals in the soil or just destroy the crops? Did they uproot olive trees like the settlers are doing now to drive the Palestinians out?)
When the riots started, ETZE"L, like Haganah, called for restraint. Jabotinsky, who had considerable influence on policy because of the many BETA"R members who had joined, believed that for moral reasons reprisals should not be taken against the violence. But another reason he supported restraint was his hope for a Jewish force that was in the open and not underground. However, restraint caused internal unrest within ETZE"L and the same was true of just a defensive posture. Although there was no organized ETZE"L policy of retaliation, some members took their own actions, often without the authorization of the commanders. The first operations began around April 1936. They took the general form of "eye for an eye" repisals by ETZE"L activists against Arab attacks. Sometimes there was an attempt to adjust the nature or location of the retaliation to the assault that provoked it.
The first incident took place a few days before the outbreak of the riots. (NB: If it took place before the outbreak then how do we know that the revenge attack did not make the Arab outbreak more likely?? ) In response to the killing of a Jewish passenger near Anabta, ETZE"L members killed two Arabs in a hut near the Petah Tikva-Yarkona road. The acts of vengeance continued in a similar sequence during the first period of the Arab revolt. In April, following an Arab shooting at the Carmel school in Tel Aviv where a Jewish child was killed, ETZE"L members attacked an Arab neighborhood near Kerem Hatemanim in Tel Aviv, killing one Arab and injuring another. On 17 August, ETZE"L reacted to attack by Arabs traveling on the Jaffa-Jerusalem train who shot at Jews waiting at a train barrier on Herzl Street in Tel Aviv. The next day, 16 August (NB: How does 16 comes after 17??) when a Jewish child was wounded, ETZEL members attacked a train on this line, killing an Armenian man and wounding five. In 1936 ETZEL members carried about 10 reprisals.
2.1.3 The First Split
At the beginning of October, the number of Arab attacks fell off after the intervention of the British Army, and in November the Peel Commission was formed to investigate the cause of the riots and to propose future solutions. With the start of 1937, there was speculation among the Yishuv that there were indications that the committee would recommend the division of western Eretz Israel, while establishing a Jewish state on part of this territory. The ETZE"L commander as well as the "Board of Supervisors" along with the Haganah and the Jewish Agency all believed in the rumors. As a result, there were voices, led by Tehomi, who thought that there was no reason for two separate Jewish defense organizations. Tehomi was quoted as saying: "We are facing momentous events, a Jewish state and a Jewish army, only one military force is required." These people no longer saw any great differences among the organizations, particularly since the Haganah was not longer subordinate to the Histadrut but to the national institutions (which had the effect of removing it from the control of parties with a political interest).
In January, the central committee decided to initiate negotiations to unite with Haganah, and in April an agreement was reached between Tehomi and Haganah members to unite the two groups and place them under the authority of the Jewish Agency and the National Committee. The members of the Revisionist Movement opposed the agreement, following the lead of Jabotinsky who opposed uniting the groups unless they were rturned to the control of the Zionist Organization. David Raziel and Avraham Stern issued a proclamation that called for them to continue as independent groups:
"... ETZEL was placed ... before a choice was made between submitting to the authority of the Government and the (Jewish) Agency and their willingness to sacrifice and to face peril. Some of our members did not find the necessary willingness for this difficult task, but surrendered to the Agency and left the struggle ... all attempts ... to unite with the left have failed because the left entered into negotiations not to unite forces but to subjugate one force to the other ... "
In contrast, most of the members of the other civil parts of the organization were in favor of the unification. At a special meeting of the ETZE"L National Council the majority was united but due to the differing opinions, it was decided to hold a referendum among the members. It was held on 24 April 1937 and the results were contradictory.
Following the agreement and despite the referendum, the organization split: between 1,200 and 1,500 people, about half of the members including most of the senior command, members and regional committees, along with most of the organization's weapons returned to the Haganah. Those who remained were activists and young activists, most of them members of Shura, who supported the independent existence of ETZE"L. In fact, the great majority of those who chose to stay were BETA"R members. Moshe Rosenberg estimated that some 1,800 members remained in ETZE"L. ETZE"L kept its party-like character but in fact the public committee fell apart and it was later organized according to the teachings and decisions of Ze'ev Jabotinsky, as it became the military wing of Revisionist Zionism.
On 27 April a new headquarters was established which appointed Moshe Rosenberg and the leader of the headquarters, Avraham Stern (Yair) as secretary, David Raziel, commander of the Jerusalem branch, Hanoch Kalai, commander of Haifa and Aharon Hayachman, the Tel Aviv commander. On 29 Tammuz 5667 (29 June) the day of Theodor Herzl's death, dozens of ETZE"L members held a parade to mark the reorganization of the underground. For reasons of secrecy, it was held at a construction site in Tel Aviv using the name "The Soldier's Covenant" (Brit HaHayal) as the name of the organization.
Ze'ev Jabotinsky headed the organization along with Colonel Robert Bitker, who previously served as a BETA"R Commissioner in China and had military experience but was not familiar with the conditions in the country and did not speak Hebrew. A few months later, because of his complete lack of suitability for the positon, Jabotinsky replaced Bitker with Moshe Rosenberg.
2.2 From the First Split to the Outbreak of World War II
2.2.1 Abandoning Restraint
In the first period following the split, even ETZE"L continued to maintain a policy of relative restraint while mounting revenge attacks against local assaults. On 29 June 1937, an Arab group attacked an Egged bus (NB: Egged Cooperative Society for Public Transportation) on the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv road and killed a Jew, and the next day two more Jews were killed near Karkur. A few hours later, ETZE"L reacted with a number of attacks. An Arab bus from Lifta was attacked in Jerusalem. In two other locations in Jerusale, Arabs were also shot. In Tel Aviv, a grenade was thrown at an Arab cafe on Carmel Street, which cuased serious injuries. And also in that city an Arab was also wounded on Reines Street. On 5 September ETZE"L responded to the killing of a rabbi returning after prayer in the Old City. An explosive device was thrown at an Arab bus leaving Lifta, resulting in injuries to two British passengers and a policeman.
This relative calm ended with the publication of the Peel Commission's conclusions, which called for the partition of the country and was immediately rejected by the Arab leaders and public. At first ETZE"L's revenge operations continued to lack a stamp of official approval but the restraint officially ended on 14 November 1937. In response to the killing of five kibbutz members near Kiryat Anavim (later Ma'ale Hahamisha) the ETZE"L in Jerusalem commanded by David Raziel, began a series of attack against Arabs walking near Jewish neighborhoods in the city, killing five Arabs. A number of actions were also carried out in Haifa (the shooting in the Wadi Nisnas neighborhood) and in Herzliya. Now this day is recognized in the history of ETZE"L as the day of 'breaking havlagah (restraint)' when the organization, with the approval of Jabotinsky and the command, fully took on the role of 'active defense'.
The British responded with arrests of BETA"R members and the Revisionist Party on suspicion of belonging to ETZE"L. The military courts were to act under 'Emergency Regulations' with the power to issue death sentences. Thus, for example, Yehezkel Altman, a guard in the BETA"R company in Nahalat Yitzhak, carried out an attack on an Arab bus without the knowledge of his commanders and managed to flee the scene. When asked he responded it was for three attacks the day before on Jewish vehicles on the Jerusalem Road. The guard surrendered and was sentenced by the court to death. The sentence was later commuted to life in prison.
ETZE"L continued their activities but their scope was greatly reduced by Rosenberg's orders. The fear of the British threat of the death penalty for anyone found with weapons froze operations for about eight months, but gradually opposition to this policy of restraint increased. On 21 April in response to the killing of six Jews, including the rape of a woman and the removal of her body, three members of the BETA"R company left Rosh Pina to retaliate without their commander's approval. The fired shots and threw a grenade (which did not explode) at an Arab bus with no injuries. Three of them were caught and two were sentenced to death which was finally approved for only one of them - Slomo Ben Yosef. Despite many demonstrations throughout the country as well as pleas from institutions and individuals such as Dr. Chaim Weizmann and the Chief Rabbi of Israel, the sentence remained. Shlomo Ben Yosef sat in his prison cell in full compliance with the sentence and saw his punishment as part of the struggle for independence of his people. Among the inscriptions he wrote on the walls of his cell was this: "I'am going to die and I am not at all sorry because I'm going to die for our country. Shlomo Ben Yosef" On 29 June 1938 he was the first to be executed on the gallows. ETZE"L sanctified him as a martyr and in the eyes of the people he was a hero.
The trial and execution of Ben Yosef also decided the internal debate within ETZE"L over the question of restraint. Many of the members resented following Rosenberg's policy of relative restraint and the resentment boiled over when Rosenberg left for Cyprus on the day of Ben Yosef's execution. At the recommandation of their leadership, Jabotinsky released Rosenberg from his position as commander and appointed as his replacement the person who was to be the most prominent ETZE"L commander until the period of Menachem Begin - David Raziel (Aluf Ben-Anat).
The ETZE"L leadership now debated whether to avenge the hanging of Ben Yosef by taking action against the British authorities or against the Arabs. Although Ben Yosef had been executed by the British, it was decided to direct their reprisals against the Arabs and to completely destroy the policy of restraint dealing with Arabs terrorism which had also intensified since mid-June. The pro-British approach of Raziel and some of the other members of the leadership combined the fear of a strong British response with an attempt to also show the British that the execution would not deter ETZE"L from further acts of revenge.
Their first act was to hang an Arab in Haifa. On 3 July there were more shootings and bomb attacks in the mixed cities. On 5 July, a Jewish father and son were killed in Jerusalem, and the next day an explosive device was thrown from the roof of a house killing two Arabs and injuring four. However, the major escalation of ETZE"L activities came in a wave of mass reprisals using explosive devies with delay mechanisms that were placed into milk cans, baskets and oil cans which were placed in places where Arabs gathered, especially in markets. On 15 July, 10 Arabs were killed in a market in the Old City of Jerusalem, on 25 July a bomb planted in the Haifa market killed some 50 Arabs, and on 26 August 24 Arabs were killed in an explosion in the center of Jaffa.
It was during this period that the tension between Haganah and ETZE"L reached its peak. Eliyahu Golomb implicitly warned Jabotinsky at a meeting on 10 July that Haganah would be forced to act against them in Israel. Jabotinsky countered and publicly warned that if a civil war began in Israel where the majority were on the left, that it would also spill over into the Diaspora community where the Revisionist Movement was stronger. On 25 July an ETZE"L cell in Haifa ambushed Arab passersby and unintentionally killed an Oriental Jew whom they presumed to be an Arab. One of the cell members, Eliyahu Rapoport, was caught by Jews and the transferred to Haganah and held. In response, ETZE"L members kidnapped a Haganah commander. It ended after about a week when both men were released, however, Rapoport was arrested shortly afterwards by British Secret Service (and according to ETZE"L members, was handed over to them by Haganah).
However, just as the tensions reached the point of exploding, an agreement was reached between ETZE"L and Haganah which was initialed on 19 September. ETZE"L committed to "stop all actions that go beyond the usual defense" without the agreement of a bilateral committee of the two organizations. In return, Haganah promised to give ETZE"L a role in the various defensive activities of the Yishuv. ETZE"L promised to stop their attacks against the Arabs during the negotiations and the attacks halted for several months. But while the agreement was accepted by Jabotinsky, David Ben-Gurion strongly opposed them and worked against their acceptance. Although the discussions continued for several more months, the agreement ultimately collapsed.
ETZE"L resumed their attacks in February 1939 after Malcolm MacDonald, the British Colonial Secretary, announced the intention of the British government to end the Mandate in Palestine (Eretz Israel) and establish an Arab state to protect the right of the Jews. This prompted a wave of Arab riots during which three Jews in Haifa were killed. ETZE"L decided to launch a wave of reprisal attacks against the Arabs in order to pressure the British government to change its pro-Arab policy. The operations were carried out on 27 February with dozens of Arabs killed. Bombs were placed in the Arab market in Haifa and also in the Haifa East Train Station, while shootings and bomb attacks were carried out in Jerusalem and Jaffa.
2.2.2 Publication of the White Paper and Initial Actions Against the British
On 17 May 1939, the MacDonald White Paper was published which outlined a plan for the establishment of a binational state, with severe restrictions on the sale of land to Jews, and the imposition of tiny quotas for immigration. Members of the Yishuv from all denomination were furious at the proposals and demonstrated against them, calling it "The Book of the Exalted" ספר המעל/Sefer HaMeal because they viewed it as a total betrayal of the British committment (NB: The Balfour Declaration) to establish a national home for the Jews in Palestine (Eretz Israel).
In response, ETZE"L began actions against British targets, however, in contrast to their deliberate attacks to kill Arabs that continued during this period, the actions against the British focused on damaging property such as the electrical grid, radio stations, telephone equipment and the mail. Despite their attempts to avoid taking any lives, a British sapper was killed and two employees of the Kol Jerusalem radio station were killed by bombs placed in the station building (on 2 August). In addition, ETZE"L began to broadcast information about its activites and goals using street posters, newspapers, and the underground radio station Kol Zion HaLochmat (Voice of Zion's Warriors).
On 29 May 1939, a group of seven ETZE"L activists entered the Rex Cinema in Jerusalem after buying tickets to watch one of the Tarzan movies. During the movie, they detonated an explosive device that had a delay mechanism and then threw more explosive charges from the gallery, killing five people and wounding eighteen. They managed to excape from the cinema unharmed. On the same day ETZE"L operatives murdered Aryeh Polonsky, who was suspected of giving information to the British, and a new immigrant who stumbled into the scene of the murder.
The British carried out mass arrests of BETA"R and HATZAHA"R (Revisionist Zionism) members. David Raziel, the commander, was arrested on 19 May and replaced by Hanoch Kalai (Sterlitz). On 31 August British police arrested the ETZE"L leadership during one of their meetings. Some of the detainees were tortured to obtain information about the organization. ETZE"L issued a warning that this would require a response from them. On 26 August 1939, ETZE"L assassinated Ralph Cairns, a British police officer who served as an Inspector in the Jewish Affairs Secion of the CID who tortured young members of the underground. (NB: http://britishpalestinepolice.org.uk/polhist18a.html There is another side to this, one that suggests that Avraham Stern started rumors about torture to deflect attention after public revulsion over the murders. Also, in this entry it appears that an attempt is made to imply that Cairns and Barker were killed on the 26th in revenge for arrests and alleged torture that did not happen until the 31st. There is causality in the narrative structure that violates the temporal structure and casuality of the events.) Cairns and another British official (NB: Inspector Ronald Barker.) were both killed by a land mine.
2.2.3 Routine Activity
ETZE"L's offensive operations against both the Arabs and the British garnered most of the attention, but these were the acts of small cells or even individuals. On the other hand, most of the manpower in ETZE"L was engaged in the task of guarding and protecting settlements. The ranks of ETZE"L were filled with BETA"R youth (from Kenya (NB: not sure about this) or from its labor companies), members of HATZAHA"R (NB: Revisionist Zionism) and the National Labor Federation, members of the "Brit HaChashmonaim" religious youth movement, and students from the national Yavneh, Yodfat and El Al associations. In some of the moshavot in Samaria, Sharon and southern Judea these were the primary defense forces. In some of the areas there was also cooperation with Haganah. Among other things, Haganah helped build Tel Zur and BETA"R "Wall and Tower" settlements.
During this period, ETZE"L also had bases in Europe. There they setup underground cells that organized convoys of immigrants. The cells were almost exclusively composed of BETA"R members and their primary activity was military training and training for immigration to Palestine (Eretz Israel). Good relations with the Polish authorities opened opportunities for ETZE"L commanders to be trained by Polish military officers on advanced topics such as guerilla warfare, tactics and using mines. Avraham Stern (Yair) was one of the most well-known cell organizers in Europe. Starting in 1937, the Polish authorities allowed the underground to start smuggling weapons. But the transfer of pistols, rifles, explosives and ammunition came to a halt when the Second World War broke out. Another area that ETZE"L entered was the training of pilots at an aviation school in Lod, who could serve in the air force in the future war for independence. Two pilots were trained at this institution.
2.2.4 Illegal Immigration
Most of the illegal immigration at the end of the 1930s was carried out by the Revisionist camp as part of Jabotinsky's 'Evacuation Plan' to evacuate millions of European Jews as quickly as possible. Until the publication of the MacDonald White Paper, Yishuv institutions and the Jewish Agency, especially Ben-Gurion, did not organize or support illegal immigration because of its political implications and hoped that Britain would eventually allow the large-scale immigration of Jews.
At first, ETZE"L was only concerned with getting the immigrants to the beach and then dispersing them among the various Hebrew communities, while BETA"R and HATZAHA"R carried out the gathering and transportation. Clandestine immigration began in September 1937 with the arrival of the Artemisia to the shore of Tantura. In the summer of 1938 ETZE"L took on additional duties and provided escorts for the ships, and in February 1939 a headquarters was created to coordinate activities with an agreement on the division of duties among the various groups.
The Revisionist organization (including ETZE"L) organized about 30 voyages of ships for illegal immigrants in which about 20,000 people came to Palestine. Most of them were not caught by the British. The largest illegal immigrant ship was the Skaria with some 2,300 on board.
2.3 The Outbreak of World War II until the Appointment of Begin as Commander
2.3.1 Standing with the British
With the outbreak of World War II at the end of 1939, Ze'ev Jabotinsky hurried to express his support for the Alliance in general and Britain in particular. Raziel also gave his support from his detention cell at the time and as a result ETZE"L on 11 September published a statement announcing the cessation of its activities against Britain, to not interfere in the fight "with the greatest enemy of the Hebrew people in the world - Nazi Germany." Following the announcement, Raziel was released from detention at the end of October. At the same time the British released most of the ETZE"L, BETA"R and HATZAHA"R prisoners, however, those who opposed Jabotinsky's and Raziel's decision, headed by Avraham Stern (Yair), remained in detention until June 1940. This caused great resentment among the opponents of the pro-British policy prompting Raziel to announce his resignation over dissatisfaction with the independent activities of some senior officials in the organization and the doubts expressed by some commanders about his loyalty. Nevertheless, he returned to his post after pressure from members of the Revisionist movement headed by Jabotinsky himself who expressed his full confidence in Raziel.
Upon his release, Raziel worked to restore the organization that had been severely injured by the arrest of its members, and to strengthen cooperation with the British. At the time, ETZE"L's position was even more pro-British than that of the Yishuv, who continued to protest against the White Paper policies. ETZE"L did not reject the concept of joining the British army and members did enlist in various army units. But most of the cooperation was in the area of intelligence: their intelligence service (SHA"I) gave the British information about German and Italian agents in Palestine, as well as information about the Communists (at this time the Soviet Union still had an alliance with Germany) and intelligence activities were planned with the British in occupied Europe and the Middle East.
2.3.2 The Second Split
Even after the outbreak of World War II, the British continued to enforce the White Paper restrictions against the sale of land and immigration. Within ETZE"L the led to feelings of deep disappointment and upset from those who disagreed with the leadership of the Revisionists, of Raziel and of ETZE"L.
On 18 June, Avraham Stern and the other commanders who had remained in detention after Raziel's release were finally released and then the depth of the rupture between them and the leadership of both ETZE"L and HATZAHA"R became clear. The issues that separated them were the subordination of the militant wing to the political leadership and the question of the struggle against the British. Raziel retired again, and Stern was elected head of the command to replace him. The members of BETA"R and HATZAHA"R received the news of Stern's new position with disappointment and displeasure because they viewed it as a challenge to Jabotinsky's authority, while Raziel was completely loyal to Jabotinsky, Stern had previously setup underground ETZE"L cells in Poland without Jabotinsky's knowledge and against his wishes, and in addition Stern supported ETZE"L's attempt to take control of the Revisionist political movement. The Revisionist Committee authorized Raziel to return to his position and he finally agreed. Jabotinsky wrote letters to both Raziel and to Stern that were distributed to the ETZE"L branches and among its members. To Raziel they wrote:
"... I call upon you: Do not let anything break our unity. Listen to the commissioner (Raziel) whom I trust, and promise to me that you and BETA"R, the exalted fruits of my life, stand firm and united, and allow me to continue with the hope of winning the war to realize our old Maccabees dream ..."
While Stern was also sent a telegram with an order to obey Raziel, who had then reclaimed his position, this did not prevent the organization from being pulled apart. Suspicion and distrust had been sown among the members which fractured their loyalties. In July a new organization emerged from ETZE"L that was initially called "The National Military Organization in Israel" (as opposed to "The National Military Organization in Eretz Israel") that later became known as LEH"I. Jabotinsky's death on 3 August 1940 did nothing to stop the split and on 14 August Raziel stopped his negotiations with the Stern people.
2.3.3 The Death of Raziel and the "Nation Warriors"
One of the ETZE"L activities to aid the British war effort was to carry out sabotage operations against the pro-Nazi forces in Iraq. And so they went into action, among them David Raziel, the organization's commander, Ya'akov Sika Aharoni and Ya'akov Meridor. On 20 May 1941 during an operation to blow up German aircraft at the Habbania Airport near Baghdad, David Raziel was killed. The death was yet another blow to ETZE"L in addition to the split and the death of Jabotinsky.
The new ETZE"L leadership was headed by Ya'akov Meridor, who used the lull to rebuild the organization which was paralyzed by the many blows it had received. At the same time there was rapprochement between ETZE"L and the Jewish Agency. They signed a "proposal for an agreement on a Zionist plan of action for the war period and the peace conference" but the uncompromising demands of David Ben-Gurion, Chairman of the Jewish Agency Executive, that ETZE"L accept the authority of the Jewish Agency combined with ETZE"L's firm refusal to accept the authority of the Yishuv's elected institutions brought an end to the negotiations.
Within the ranks of both ETZE"L and Haganah there were many who opposed British rule. Throughout World War II, even though the Jewish community stood with the Allies and volunteered to join the stuggle, the British continued to strictly enforce the White Paper policies. In addition, there were other tragedies such as the Patria where Haganah mistakes led to deaths of 208 of the 1,800 illegal Jewish immigrants that the British intended to deport to Mauritius, the deportation of 1,584 illegal immigrants on the Atlantik, and the drowning death of 769 illegal immigrants aboard the Struma. At the end of 1943, a group composed of both Haganah and ETZE"L members was formed to create a united fighting force, without any party affiliation, that was given the name עם לוחם Eim Lochem/"Nation Warriors". The group's first plan was to kidnap the British High Commissioner and take him to Cyprus. However, the Haganah learned of the plan from someone in the group and the plan was foiled before it could be carried out. However, ETZE"L ceased cooperation with the British. Eliahu Lenkin wrote in his book: "Immediately after the failure of Nation Warriors, ETZE"L headquarters began realistic discussions about declaring war (NB: on the British)." The failure of the plan also led Meridor to give up his position as the ETZE"L commander.
2.4 Struggle Against the British From 1944 Until the end of World War II
2.4.1 Begin's Appointment as Commander and the Declaration of Revolt
A major turning point in the history of ETZE"L was the arrival of Menachem Begin in Eretz Israel, Begin was a BETA"R Commissioner in Poland and of the prominent figures in the Revisionist camp. Begin arrived in Palestine (Eretz israel) while part of the Anders Army (NB: Poles who fought for the government-in-exile in London on the Italian Front.) and he arrived in Palestine from the USSR by way of Persia on their way to the European Front. Upon his arrival in Palestine, Begin joined ETZE"L and was offered command of the organiation while still part of Anders Army serving at their headquaters. (NB: In he.wikipedia it says that he served in the Anders headquarters but had only joined the Free Polish Army in July 1941 as a corporal officer cadet, not reaching Palestine until May 1942. He was however, a leader in the BETA"R movement in eastern Europe before the war and therefore known to ETZE"L leaders in Palestine.) This offer came from the current ETZE"L commander, Ya'akov Meridor. But Begin refused the position as long as he was still in the army so the organization continued to pass time in the interim. Begin was finally released from the Anders Army at the end of 1943. He then assumed command of the organization and formed a new command staff with Meridor as his deputy along with Aryeh Ben-Eliezer, Eliyahu Lankin and Shlomo Lev Ami.
In Poland, Begin was one of the leaders of the activist camp in the Revisionist Movement that oppposed the pro-British line. The transfer of command of ETZE"L into his hands would finally put an end to the pro-British period and led to the beginning of the "revolt" against British rule in Palestine. On 1 February 1944, ETZE"L published the leaflet "The Declaration of the Revolt". The document opens with details about how all of the Zionist movements were standing beside the Allies with more than 25,000 Jews joining the ranks of British Army. This hurt the chance to establish a Jewish army. At the same time, the Arabs of the Middle East supported Germany. The Jews of Europe were being sent to camps and their liquidation had begun but Britain still would not allow rescue operations. The document ends with these words:
"It is realized that despite the betrayal of the Arabs and the loyalty of the Jews; despite the mass mobilization for the British Army; despite the armistice and quiet in the Land of Israel; despite the mass slaughter of the House of Israel in Europe ... The facts tell a story that is both simple and terrible. During the four years of the war, we lost millions of our best people; millions other are at risk of destruction. And the Land of Israel is closed and it is closed because it is ruled by the British, implemented through the White Paper, and seeks to destroy the last hope of our people."
Later the document declares that, from the viewpoint of ETZE"L, the armistice with the British has ended and that from this point forward a war would begin. The document continues with the demand for the transfer of power over the Land of Israel to Israel, "a temporary Hebrew government" which will based on ten major points, including the mass evacuation of European Jewry, making alliances with any state that recognizes the sovereignty of the Hebrew state (including the United Kingdom), ensuring social justice for its inhabitants and granting full equality of rights to the Arab population.
2.4.2 The Beginning of the Struggle Against the British
ETZE"L launched its campaign with depleted ranks - the organization only numbered about 1,000 people only 200 of whom were fighters. There were also few weapons. The organization was reorganized and divided into various divisions:
- HA"K - Battle Force - the main force of the organization
- Hayam - individual attack unit (NB: Literally, Punch unit, but no idea what they mean by it.)
- Delek - the intelligence organization
- CHATA"M - a revolutionary propaganda unit responsible for disseminating information
- CHA"T - the planning division
The entire organization burrowed even deeper underground, and especially its commanders who began to change stay in different places and change their identities. Begin, for example, adopted the identity of a rabbi (Israel Sussover), and sometimes used names such as Ben Ze'ev, Dr. Koenigshofer as well as others.
ETZE"L launched attacks on the symbols of British rule in an attempt to undermine the functioning of the government as well as discredit it while maintaining a rule it set for itself, avoiding terror and attempt not to harm human life. The first attack occurred on 12 February 1944 against government immigration offices, which in the eyes of the Yishuv symbolized the decrees against immigration. The attacks took place on Saturday night, when the buildings were empty and in the offices of the three major cities - Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa. On 27 February the income tax offices were blown up in these three cities that ETZE"L described as "the main instrument for the exploitation of Jewish workers and citizens by the government of betrayal." These attack were also carried out on a Saturday night. Warnings were posted near the buildings.
The Municipality of Tel Aviv erected a memorial plaque on the Bank of Israel building on 69 Nahalat Binyamin Street that was built on the ruins of the Mandatory Income Tax building destroyed by ETZE"L.
On 23 March, the National Police Headquarters in the Russian Compound was attack and part of it was blown up. The activities of ETZE"L in the first few months were strongly condemned by the leadership of the Yishuv and the Jewish Agency which viewed them as dangerous provocations. At the same time, LEH"I renewed its attacks on the British while ETZE"L continued to attack police headquarters, police stations and the Tegart Fortress at time even engaging in gun battles with the police. A relatively complex operation by five combat units was the takeover of the government radio broadcast station in Ramallah on 17 May. One of their symbolic actions was to publish warnings to British policemen not to come to the Western Wall during Yom Kippur. According to Yehuda Lapidot, an ETZE"L member, for the first time since the beginning of their rule the British police did not to the the Wall and did not prevent Jews from blowing the traditional shofar. At the end of Yom Kippur, ETZE"L attack four police stations in Arab population centers. In order to obtain their weapons, ETZE"L started 'confiscation' operations stealing weapons from the British for their own use.
Menachem Begin offered his opinion about this in his book 'The Revolt':
"History and observation taught us that if we succeeded in destroying British prestige in Eretz Israel then British rule would also be broken. With that we found the weak point of the rule of servitude. We did not let go of it."
In addition, the judgement of ETZE"L headquaters at the time was "There is a feeling in the entire Yishuv that the direct result of our war was the prevention of Arab riots."
At the same time, ETZE"L severed ties with both the New Zionist Organization and the Revisionist Party so their fate was not tied to those of the visible and legal organizations. Another reason for the break was the differences of opinion between them as ETZE"L was taking a more explicit anti-British policy while most in the political Revisionist organizations maintained a pro-British policy as long as the war in Europe continued.
2.4.3 The Underground Exiles
In October 1944, the British began deporting hundreds of ETZE"L and LEH"I prisoners to detention camps in Africa. On 19 October, 251 detainees from Latrun were flown in 13 military aircraft to a detention camp in Asmara, Eritrea (at that time part of Ehtiopia). Later on, eleven more deported ETZE"L and LEH"I detainees arrived. Until they returned to Israel in July 1948, the prisoners made numerous attempts to escape from the camps. Although some of the attempts succeeded in getting out of the camps and beyond the fences, only nine were successful enoug to complete their escapes and return to rejoin the undergound. The most prominent of the prisoners was Ya'akov Meridor who attempted to escape from the detention camp nine times until he finally managed to reach Europe in April 1948. He wrote about this in his book "Long Way to Freedom". Throughout their period of detention, the exiles engaged in constant rebellion against camp procedures and participated in hunger strikes.
2.4.4 The Saison (NB: Hunting Season)
While ETZE"L and LEH"I stepped up their activities against the British, the leadership of the Yishuv adopted a policy of strengthening cooperation with the British in the war in Europe (parachuting agents behind lines and helping create the Jewish Brigade) and acting to restrain actions against British rule in Palestine both because of the contribution to the struggle against the Nazi regime and in the hope that it would lead to political achievements after the end of the war. The Yishuv leadership feared the ETZE"L and LEH"I would sabotage their efforts and drag the entire Yishuv into a struggle that at this stage it did not want. There was also concern that the reaction of British authorities to the activities of the 'dissident organizations' would be directed against the entire Yishuv.
After lengthy negotiations and attempts with ETZE"L and LEH"I to persuade them to moderate their activities against the British failed to produce results, and particularly after the assassination in November of 1944 of Lord Moyne, the British Secretary of State for the Middle East, an operation against these two groups began although the bulk of the action was directed at ETZE"L as LEH"I had reached a behind-the-scenes understanding.
During the period of what was know as the 'Saison', persons suspected of belonging to or supporting the underground were excluded from institutions such as housing, libraries, workplaces and the Clalit Health Services while the Haganah and PALMA"CH engaged in the arrest, detention, interrogation and extradition to British intelligence of ETZE"L and LEH"I members as well as disclosing any information about them. The also handed over members of the ETZE"L leadership, Meridor, Lev Ami and Lenkin, to the police.
At the beginning of these operations, ETZE"L's leadership required its personnel at all levels to exercise complete restraint against those Jews who carried out the Saison campaign. Although there was opposition to this move, Menachem Begin exerted all of his influence to prevent a "civil war":
"Whatever happens, our soldiers will not raise their arms against Jewish rivals ... at the price of the most valuable victims, even at the price of our elimination.""
Following the Saison, ETZE"L ceased operations for several months until the end of the war in Europe, but the organization was not eliminated. A recovery in the ranks was evident once they resumed sabotage operations in cooperation with LEH"I in May 1945 against pipelines, telephone and telegraph lines, and railway bridges.
2.5 The Jewish Resistance Movement
2.5.1 Establishment of the Jewish Resistance Movement
In the months that followed the end of war in Europe in May of 1945, the views of ETZE"L, LEH"I and Haganah toward British rule slowly began to converge.
The leadership of the Yishuv hoped that with the end of the war, Britain would reward the Yishuv for its support during the war. Their hopes increased when at the end of July, the Labor Party came to power having issued previous statements by the party supporting Zionism and an ending of the White Paper restrictions. But their hopes went unrealized after government policy on these matters, led by Foreign Minister Ernest Bevin, continued the White Paper policies, particularly the continued limits on immigration. As their disappointment with the British grew, the voices of Haganah and the Yishuv institutions grew louder, calling for a struggle against the British government. In this way, one of the major disagreements between the leadership of the Yishuv and ETZE"L and LEH"I narrowed considerably painvg the way for more cooperation.
In August negotiations began between the three undergrounds and in October an agreement was reached with led to the creation of "The Jewish Resistance Movement", a body that united the three in an armed struggle with the British. ETZE"L and LEH"I worked to coordinate all of their activities with Haganah (with the exceptions of actions intended to obtain weapons) and even received missions from the leadership of the Jewish Resistance Movement. For some 10 months, ETZE"L and LEH"I carried out 19 attacks while Haganah and PALMA"CH carried out 10, most of them large operations (the largest is known as the Night of the Bridges). In addition, Haganah smuggled more that 13,000 illegal immigrants into Eretz Israel.
In a 1945 issue of Herut newspaper, the feelings of the movement found expression:
"And so it came to pass .. all of the forces that constituted the armed might of the nation attacked to defend their destroyed people and their enslaved land ... and now we may say ... what happened to us, brother soldiers, during these years when we stood alone in the campaign, when the flag of freedom was in our hands and the fire of faith was in our hearts? Do you remember the months of hunting? Do you remember the incomprehensible path that we chose? Even in those insane times our faith did not cease for one day we would fight shoulder to shoulder with our errant brethren. This day has come ... we must admit with humility .. the faith ... that enabled us to prevent a civil war, so that the War of Independence could be fought.""
2.5.2 Operations of the Movement
The first joint action of the Resistance Movement was the Night of the Trains on 1 November 1945. ETZE"L and LEH"I carried out an attack on the LOD Railway Station while Haganah and PALMA"CH attacked in hundreds of places along the rail network.
Tensions with the authorities increased with the incresing number of attacks against their facilities. ETZE"L and LEH"I set out for a series of joint operations: an attack on army camps in Beit Nabala, Rosh Ha'Ayin and the air force camp in northern Tel Aviv, where ETZE"L also carried out their first raid from the sea. At the end of December they mounted another attack with LEH"I and destroyed the British INtelligence Center in Jaffa and the Russian Compound. ETZE"L also carried out six "confiscation operations" during which it obtained dozens of machine guns and submachine guns, mortars and ammunition. Then came the robbery of the silver train, 12 January 1946, when ETZE"L stole 35,000 Palestine pounds, a huge sum that was used to finance their underground operations. On 25 February 1946 the British airports were attacked: ETZE"L fighters entered Lod Airport and destoyed 11 military aircraft, at the Kastina Airport (now Hatzor Base) ETZE"L destroyed 12 aircraft, and at the airfield near Kfar Sirkin (now the Sirkin Camp) LEH"I fighters destroyed 6 aircraft. Ten days later, 30 ETZE"L members dressed as 'Anemones' (soldiers of the Sixth Airborne Division) entered the Tzrifin Camp and filled a truck with weapons and ammunition. On their way out, a firefight broke out during which two fighters, Michael Ashbel and Yosef Simhon, were severely wounded and evacuated to Gilad Hospital in Tel Aviv. (NB: They were also captured by the British.) After being sentenced to hang, ETZE"L kidnapped five British Army officers as hostages. When the sentences were commuted and pardons granted, ETZE"L freed the officers. While on death row, Micheal Ashbel wrote the song "Ali Barricades" which went on to become one of ETZE"L's favorite songs. Eshbal and Simhon turned their trials into political theater which they used as a platform for speeches that received media exposure outside of Eretz Israel.
On 23 April, an attack on the Ramat Gan police was carried out by 40 ETZE"L fighters, some disguised as Arab prisoners being led by police. After they successfully entered without being discovered, they pulled out their weapons and took control of the station to then begin loading weapons into a truck. In the middle of the operation, British reinforcements arrived at the scene and a gun battle broke out while ETZE"L fighters continued to load weapons and then began to withdraw. In the retreat, the commander of the intruders was killed, Ya'akov Zlotnik, his body hung on a barbed wire fence. (NB: Deliberately inflamatory statement. Did the British do this deliberately or was it something that happened while ETZE"L tried to escape.) Another fighter, Yitzhak Bilu, was killed during a diversionary attack, an explosive charge fell from his hand and he threw himself on it to save his comrades who carried Molotov cocktails. Dov Gruner was wounded in the operation. He was tried and sentenced to death by hanging, refused to sign a pardon request and was sent to the gallows.
Following the actions of the Resistance Movement, British policy towards the Yishuv became more severe. The Emergency Regulations were strengthened and tens of thousands of security personnel were stationed in Israel. There were numerous arrests and searches conducted in Jewish localities as well as severe disruptions to the settlement operations (such as the Biriya Incident). All this reached a crescendo with the Black Sabbath events of 29 June 1946 when thousands were arrested, including many Yishuv leaders.
2.5.3 The Bombing of the King David Hotel
In response to the Black Sabbath operation, the High Command of the Haganah headed by Moshe Sneh, decided to implement a plan against the British together with with Resistance Movement which he had refused to approve in the past. ETZE"L's role in the plan was to blow up the southern wing of the King David Hotel where the Chief Secretariat of the Government and the Military Headquarters were located. During preparations, Chaim Weizmann intervened and demanded that the plans of the Resistance be halted. Sneh asked Begin to delay the operation but did not provide a reason for his request, however, ETZE"L finally carried out the operation on 22 July 1946. Milk containers with explosive devices devices with delay mechanisms hidden inside were placed in a restaurant on the first floor near the building's supporting pillars. At 12:37 the charges were detonated and the southern wing of the building collapsed on its occupants.
Unlike many other ETZE"L actions against government institutions, the explosion at the King David Hotel took place during the middle of the day when the building was filled with workers. An advance warning was ignored and the number of fatalities reached 91, including 15 Jews.
The act and its outcome created a sense of shock within the Yishuv. Both the Jewish Agency and Haganah repudiated and strongly condemned the act that killed so many civilians. At the time, the public was not aware of the whole story, parts of which are still controversial today. For example, the British denied that they had been given a warning and the connection between the Resistance and Haganah concerning the deed was also not known. Only a year later, ETZE"L published its version of events that included the involvement of the Resistance leaders and their responsiblity for the act.
The act and its tragic consequences and the subsequent reaction, caused a renewed deterioration of relations between Haganah and the Yishuv leadership and ETZE"L, and the decision was made to dismantle the Resistance Movement.
2.6 Independent Struggle Against the British Until their Departure
The bombing of the King David Hotel and the imprisonment of the Jewish Agency officials and Yishuv leaders on the Black Sabbath led to the withdrawal of Haganah from the armed struggle against the British. Soon the heads of the Jewish Agency and the Yishuv were released from the Latrun detention camp. The struggle against the British continued until the end of the Mandate but was conducted only by the two smaller underground groups.
2.6.1 Renewal of the Attacks on the British
In early September of 1946, ETZE"L renewed its attacks on British facilities with the primary targets being railroad tracks, communications lines and bridges, and train stations. One prominent action was the attack on the Jerusalem Railway Station. From ETZE"L's viewpoint, these were legitimate targets because they allowed the British to quickly transfer their forces. The attacks resulted in the British temporarily halting train traffic at night. Throughout this period, ETZE"L published flyers in all three languages (NB: Which I presume to be Hebrew, Arabic and English.) warning passengers not to use trains that were in danger of attack.
In December of 1946, a young man who belonged to ETZE"L was sentenced to prison for 18 years and given 18 lashes. ETZE"L threatened to retaliate and after the young man was released, ETZE"L members kidnapped British officers in various cities throughout the country and beat them. The operation was called "The Night of the Beatings" and afterwards no more Jews were flogged by the British. (NB: There is another source that notes the kidnapping and flogging of British soldiers even before this incident, 18 June 1946 but no mention of kidnappings in December. There were more kidnappings on 26 and 27 January 1947 and again on 18 June 1947. And as for the claim that no more Jews were flogged by the British after December 1946, while Britain discontinued flogging they did reinstate the death penalty. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Night_of_the_Beatings and www.britishforcesinpalestine.org for the kidnapping and beating of British soldiers.)
ETZE"L had reestablished cells around the world and by 1948 operated in 23 countries, including China and in south and north Africa, cells that sometimes engaged in operations against British missions or carried out propaganda operations against the British. On 31 October 1946, the British Embassy in Rome was bombed in response to their continued immigration restrictions on Holocaust survivors.
Britain was now taking the threats more seiously. So many British families were moved first to military camp and later returned to their homalands. Eventuall, all British citizens, primarily the women and the children, were sent out of Palestine. In the three big cities, the British created security zones there were well guarded and fenced. The Jews called these areas 'Bevin-grad' after Ernst Bevin the British Colonial Secretary. (NB: A portmanteau of Ernst Bevin and Stalingrad.) Four such areas were established in Jerusalem, the main one being in the Russian Compound.
ETZE"L increased its activities and from 19 February to 3 March attacked 18 British targets: military camps, compounds, transportation routes and vehicles. Among them, five military camps were attacked in one day by gunfire and mortars. One well-known attack was the bombing of the officer's club in Jerusalem (Goldschmidt House) located in one of the Bevin-grad areas in Jerusalem. As a result of the explosion, 17 were killed, including senior police officers. For the first time, ETZE"L did not publish an early warning before the explosion.
In response, the British imposed curfews and martial law in parts of the country with some 20,000 soldiers. The terror attacks and deaths caused shock in Britain. On 3 March, the opposition leader in the House of Commons, Winston Churchill, asked: "Since there is an army four times larger than that in India, and 100,000 troops cost 40 million pounds a year, why should the bloodshed continue?" Some of the British press also supported leaving the country. The UN was asked to expedite the creation of a Special Committee prior to the discussion on Palestine. During the imposed military situation, ETZE"L and LEH"I still carried out 68 operations, most of them against army camps. Among them was the ETZE"L attack on the army buildings and headquarters at Schneller Camp in Bevin-grad in Jerusalem that broke through the external ring of fortifications. The success of the attack in overcoming the many security measures put into place created discussion in the media. The martial law ended four days later. (NB: For the British view on the attack see http://www.britishforcesinpalestine.org/attacks/syrianorphanagejournal.html The British declared martial law in Palestine for 15 days, beginning on 2 March. Despite the seeming causality implied by this narrative, the ending of martial law was not the result of this attack. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/March_1947_martial_law_in_Mandatory_Palestine which also notes that David Ben-Gurion saw the attacks by ETZE"L and LEH"I as simple terrorism that threatened to plunge the Jewish community into civil war and directed Haganah to move against them and so hamper their activities that it would be difficult for them to attack the British again.)
2.6.2 Olei Ha'Gardom and the Acre Prison Break
(NB: עולי הגרדום Olei Ha'Gardom is difficult to translate because olei has so many possible meanings. It can be translated as immigrant or pilgrim or one who ascends. So are they gallows pilgrims or gallows immigrants or even sent up to the gallows? One form of the word, olah, is used to describe 'burnt offerings' but "This term does not mean literally 'burnt offering,' but 'what is brought up' or presented to the Deity." See http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/3847-burnt-offering. Given the religious symbolism, I would argue for something along the lines of 'sacrifice offered up on the gallows' for its added emotional impact which is exactly what would be achieved by using it to describe these men.)
In response to ETZE"L's increased activity, the British began to make use of the death penalty which had been used against Jews only twice before in the late 1930s. The first to receive this sentence was Dov Gruner on 1 January 1947. His execution date was set for 28 January but the execution was postponed after ETZE"L kidnapped a judge and a British detective officer, who were released after the postponement was announced. In the period from February to April, several more death sentences were issued.
On 16 April, Dov Gruner was sent to the gallows in Acre Prison along with three ETZE"L members who had been caught carrying weapons during the 'Night of the Beating': Yechiel Dresner, Elizar Kashani, and Modechai Alkahi.
On 21 April, Meir Feinstein and LEH"I member Moshe Barazani blew themselves up with a grenade a few hours before they were scheduled to go to the gallows in the central prison in Jerusalem.
On 4 May, one of ETZE"Ls biggest operations was carried out - the escape from the Acre Prison. A unit of 23 people, aided by ETZE"L and LEH"I prisoners held at the fortress, broke into the prison and led the escape of 41 prisoners from the underground (some were caught outside the prison while others were killed during the escape). With them were many Arab criminal prisoners. The operations received worldwide news coverage. Three of the attackers were captured - Meir Nakar, Avshalom Haviv, and Ya'akov Weiss - and sentenced to death by hanging.
2.6.3 The Sergeants Incident
The Sergeants Incident was the culmination of the kidnapping of British soldiers by ETZE"L. After the verdict was approved for the three underground fighters captured during the Acre jail break, ETZE"L decided to try and save them (NB: Nakar, Haviv and Weiss) by kidnapping two British sergeants on the streets of Netanya. British forces conducted extensive searches while imposing a curfew on the area but were unable to locate the kidnapped sergeants. On 29 July, Meir Nakar, Avshalom Haviv and Ya'akov Weiss died on the gallows. Some thirteen hours later, the two sergeants were executed by hanging at the location where they were hidden, and the next day their bodies were found hanging on eucalyptus trees in a grove near Netanya. When the bodies were found, one of them was blow apart as a result of the explosion of a mine placed next to it. (NB The bodies had been booby-trapped by ETZE"L to injure anyone who might find them and attempt to cut them down. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sergeants_affair. )
This act caused outrage and shock in Britain. Many among the Jewish community were also shocked by the act, and the operation was strongly condemned by the leaders of the Yishuv. Another reason for anger with ETZE"L was the timing of the operation. At the same time that this occurred, there was the affairs of the illegal migrant ship Exodus, and the Yishuv leaders felt that the hanging of the sergeants grabbed the attention of the media and hurt the propaganda value the Yishuv leadership hoped to achieve through the Exodus incident..
After this until the final end of the British Mandate in Palestine, the British did not carry out any more executions. (NB: A good lawyer would ask for the comments to be struck from the record as conjecture in the absence of any references to decisions or policy changes by the British. The implication is that the terrorist activities of ETZE"L made the British abandon the practice.)
2.6.4 End of British Rule
During 1947, Britain passed the Palestine question to a UN debate, which then decided to terminate the British Mandate. The British government announced that it would seek a UN debate in February, and this debate led to the establishment of the UN Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) in May. The committee submitted its conclusions at the beginning of September, recommending the British Mandate in Palestine be ended. The majority opinion on the committee was the basis for the partition plan. On 29 November, the UN General Assembly adopted the Partition Plan and determined that the British Mandate would expire no later then 1 August 1948. The British government decided not to cooperate with the UN in implementing the plan aub to terminate the mandate and withdraw its forces by 15 May.
These developments led to the virtually complete end of ETZE"L activity against British rule. Their last major operations was the bombing of the British police building in Haifa on 29 September. After that the operations against British forces were primarily aimed at obtaining weapons and ammunition. At the end of February 1948, ETZE"L members attack the Jerusalem Military Court building.
ETZE"L and LEH"I viewed the British withdrawal as the successful outcome of their armed struggle - hundreds of actions that took the lives of more than 300 British security personnel. Prominent among them was the bombing of the King David Hotel, the Night of the Beatings, the Acre Prison break and the Hanging of the Seargeants which shook public opinion in Britain and embarrassed her government.
2.7 War of Independence
2.7.1 The Beginning of the War
On 29 November 1947, the General Assembly of the UN voted to accept the Partition Plan and end the British Mandate. Unlike the Yishuv government, ETZE"L rejected the Partition Plan and declared that "the division of our homeland is illegal." The day after the Partition Plan was accepted, the Arabs of Palestine began attacking the Jewish community and the first phase of the War of Independence began. The first attacks were on the Jewish population in Jerusalem, the neighborhoods near Jaffa, the Bat Yam, Holon and Hatikva neighborhoods and Jewish travelers on the roads.
With the decision to end the Mandate, the struggle against the British that had so consumed ETZE"L since the Declaration of the Revolt also ended forcing them to adapt to new challenges. In a November meeting with the ETZE"L commanders, Begin told them that "ETZE"L must be quickly transformed from a small underground unit into a regular army in order to take on the task of taking the war beyond the partition boundaries."
With the outbreak of the war, ETZE"L numbered about 3,000 of whom about one third were combatants as opposed to the tens of thousands of Haganah members, and the hundreds of LEH"I members. ETZE"L had 2 mortars, 30 machine guns and about 500 personal weapons (rifles, submachine guns and pistols). With the transformation of ETZE"L from an underground to being almost aboveground, (for example, the establishment of camps in both Ramat Gan and Petah Tikva) they expanded their ranks and added new volunteers in activites that paralleled the general mobilization of the Yishuv's Haganah, but they found it difficult to train their new recruits some of whom joined them in order to avoid being drafted into Haganah. ETZE"L also launched a fundraising campaign called "The Iron Fund", similar to how the official institutions raised funds through the Kofer Ha'Yishuv. כופר הײשוב
The organization's force structure, while sufficient for guerilla operations against British rule, could not fulfill the role of a regular military organization that could conquer areas beyond the dividing lines and defend the Jewish settlements in Jerusalem.
Starting in December, ETZE"L began to carry out attacks against the Arab population with the aim of carrying the fighting to Arab areas and the Arab rear instead of in Jewish areas. So ETZE"L returned to methods from the time of the Arab Revolt in the 1930s, but this time Haganah also abandoned the policy of restraint and went on the attack, particularly after the fall of the Platoon 35.
ETZE"L units attacked the Arab villages of A-Tira in the Carmel area, Yehudiah (NB: now Yahud) near Petah Tikva and Shu'afat near Jerusalem. In Jerusalem, ETZE"L members threw a bomb among Arabs waiting for a bus at the Jaffa Gate. Many were killed by the explosion. ETZE"L also attack Haifa, Wadi Rumshmiya and the Abu Kabir neighborhood near Jaffa. On 29 December, ETZE"L units arrived in Jaffa by boat and exchanged gunfire with Arabs and threw grenades, killing Arabs and damaging property. The next day in Haifa bay, ETZE"L in a car drove by attacked a group of day laborers waiting at the entrance to the oil refineries killing seven Arabs and wounding dozens. In response, Arab workers attacked Jewish workers in the area of the oil refineries, killing 39 of them (this incident was the reason for the Haganah retaliation in Balad a-Sheikh). Responding to the ETZE"L attack, Haganah kidnapped the members involved in the attack during which ETZE"L member Yedidya Segal died, an event that almost provoked a civil war between Haganah and ETZE"L. In 1 January, ETZE"L attacked again in Jaffa but this time they wore British uniforms as a disguise. At the end of January, they attack Beit Nabala, a base for many Arab fighters.
Among their attacks in Febraury, ETZE"L attacked transportation routes near Yehudiya, Yazur and Ramle. Their fighters took part in battles with Arab militants in Ramle and Qalqilya. In March they attacked Kakun near TulKarm, a village with a concentration of Arab militants.
2.7.2 The Agreements with Haganah and the Yishuv
Not long after the Partition Plan was received, both ETZE"L and the Jewish Agency leadership began negotiations on cooperation between them and Haganah to address the challenges of the coming war.
The labor parties and the Haganah leaders opposed this attempt to reach an agreement. Ben-Gurion declared that "if the dissidents disband their organization and surrender their weapons, each of them could volunteer to defend the Yishuv like any other Jew, and if suitable, added to the ranks." The civilian leaders in the Yishuv worked for an agreement, and they included Yitzhak Gruenbaum and Yehuda Leib Fishman headed the Jewish Agency delegation in the negotiations.
Even before the parties could reach a general agreement, informal understandings of cooperation in various areas were reached that included ETZE"L and Haganah operating in parallel to prevent duplication of effort and interference. Such informal agreements were reached in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Petah Tikva and Netanya. In Haifa, an ETZE"L force was allowed to take part in the occupation of the city on 21 April.
But at the same time there were also clashes between ETZE"L and Haganah members. In Haifa in January there was a kidnapping incident that involved the members of both organizations. Yedidya Segal, an ETZE"L member who had been kidnapped, was found dead near the Arab village of Tira. Haganah claimed that he had escaped from them and was killed by Arab villagers, while ETZE"L claimed that he had died during his interrogation by Haganah. On 22 February, Haganah thwarted an attempted robbery by ETZE"L of a bank branch in Tel Aviv, and four days after that there was a confrontation between them at Mugrabi Square in Tel Aviv when ETZE"L organized a rally and where stun grenades were thrown by Haganah as ETZE"L members confronted them prominently holding their rifles at the ready.
On 7 March, the representatives of the parties reached an agreement and sent it to their instituions for approval. The agreement was approved at a meeting of the Zionist General Council on 12 April with the General Zionists, Mizrahi and Revisionists in favor, and the worker's parties against. After a few more delays, the agreement went into effect on 27 April.
The agreement stipulated that ETZE"L forces would remain independent but would accept the authority of the various Haganah commanders, that ETZE"L operations would require the approval of Haganah headquarters, and that ETZE"L would also receive and carry out task given them by Haganah headquarters.
2.7.3 Deir Yassin
One of the most controversial operations of ETZE"L during the War of Independence was the occupation of the village of Deir Yassin, located to the west of Jerusalem. The attack on the village took place at the same time as Haganah's Operation Nachshon to open the road to Jerusalem and at the end of the defensive battles to conquer Castel (the Battle of the Castel). ETZE"L also wanted to participate in this new phase of fighting as Jewish forces made the transition from defensive and hit-and-run attacks to standard attacks that included the conqest and occupation of areas. ETZE"L chose to occupy the village of Deir Yassin, acting with the knowledge and reluctant approval of the Haganah commander in Jerusalem, David Shaltiel.
On the morning of 9 April, 72 ETZE"L and 40 LEH"I soldiers left for the assault. The battle was difficult because of the troops' inexperience fighting in built-up areas and five members of the force were killed. ETZE"L and LEH"I units were forced to seek help from Haganah Headquarters which sent a PALMA"CH force that aided them with mortar fire, a weapon that neither ETZE"L nor LEH"I possessed, and they also helped to evacuate the wounded.
ETZE"L and LEH"I planned to call out on loudspeakers to the village asking them to evacuate but this did not go as planned and the villagers did not hear the warning. So, contrary to their plans, the battle took place with most of the civilian population still in the village resulting in many deaths. The number of Arabs killed by ETZE"L and LEH"I was 240 and this number was based on impressions. Today, however, the estimate is only 100 to 120 casualties.
Fearing an air attack planned by British forces, ETZE"L and LEH"I forces evacuated the village about three days after its occupation and transferred it to the control Haganah forces. Only then were the Arab dead buried.
The events in the conquest of the village quickly became the focus of a multi-sided propaganda war with each side exaggerating the situation for their own political ends. ETZE"L and LEH"I boasted of the number of Arabs killed even though it was exaggerated both to demoralize the Arab public and to increase their prestige as a fighting force among the Jewish public. The Arab leadership adopted the inflated numbers and spread accounts of the atrocities to provoke a sense of revenge against the Jews. Haganah and the leftists also used the exaggerated numbers and description to discredit the "dissidents" and diminish their standing with the Jewish public.
The events that took place in the village are still a subject of debate and the propaganda was surrounding them had both far-reaching consequences and long-term effects. The event and the Arab propaganda that told of the atrocities, many fictitious, created such fear in the Arab public only further encouraged them to flee their villages. Thus, the Deir Yassin incident became a turning point in the war and was one of the foundations of the Nakba.
2.7.4 Fighting in Jaffa and the Conquest of Manshiyeh
After Haganah conquered Tiberias and Haifa in Mid-April, ETZE"L also wanted the recognition for conquering an Arab city. Jaffa, from which shots had been fired at nearby Tel Aviv, was chosen as their target and for its conquest almost all of their assets were mobilized in the coastal plain. According to the boundary lines of the partition, Jaffa was to be part of an Arab enclave within a Jewish area, making it an even more appealing target to ETZE"L which refused to recognize the partition. Because the city was located in an area that was to be part of a future Arab state unlike Tiberias and Haifa, the British continued to control it and denied access to Jewish forces. In deciding to conquer Jaffa, ETZE"L decided to act alone in contrast to the Haganah plan to not conquer it but instead surround the city until the British left, and separately from LEH"I, who wanted to join in the conquest but whose request was refused.
On 25 April, ETZE"L units that included about 600 combat soldiers, left the camp at Ramat Gan to begin the attack on Arab Jaffa. The battle against the armed Arab groups was difficult and they faced fierce resistance from the British who used armored vehicles and even airpower against them. This was the first time that ETZE"L had directly fought against the British army. Under the command of Amichai Paglin "Gidi", the operations officer of ETZE"L, and after a fierce battle, ETZE"L took control of the Manshiyeh neighborhood that threatened Tel Aviv and proceeded toward the sea and the harbor while mortars struck the neighborhoods to the south. These actions led to the flight of the Arab residents of the city during which 30 ETZE"L members were killed, most of them by British fire. The British demanded the evacuation of occupied Manshiyeh, however, following an agreement with Haganah where it was promised there would be no withdrawal from Jaffa under British pressure, Haganah took over the occupation of Manshiyeh which ETZE"L had conquered and this was the end of their independent attack on Jaffa. Although the attack had failed to take the entire city, they settled for the conquest of the Manshiyeh neighborhood and their attacks greatly increased the flight of Arab residents from Jaffa which contributed to the later fall of the city. On 26 April, with the agreement between Haganah and ETZE"L, ETZE"L units were allowed to become part of Haganah's Operation Hametz which followed the original Haganah plan of first taking all the villages around Jaffa to surround the city which finally surrendered on 13 May after Haganah entered the city from the south to complete their takeover.
ETZE"L considered the operation in Jaffa to be one of their outstanding achievements. Having conquered Manshiyeh to the sea and frightened the rest of the Arab population to flee the city, ETZE"L took credit for seizing Jaffa. The ETZE"L Museum was set up in 1948 (in Beit Gidi, now located in Charles Clore Park) in one of the few remaining houses of the Manshiyeh neighborhood.
2.7.5 Integration of ETZE"L into the IDF
On 27 April when the agreement with Haganah came into effect until the establishment of the IDF, ETZE"L continued to exist independently but cooperated with Haganah and participated in their operations.
At the beginning of May, ETZE"L conquered the village of Yehudiya (now Yehud) and several villages in the Ramot Menashe area. They also fought in the Ramle area where they helped the Givati Brigade impose a siege on the city. Starting 16 May, ETZE"L units fought in Ramle in attacks that failed with heavy losses.
In May (14th) the state was declared and at the end of the month the Israeli Defense Forces were created from the Haganah. On 1 June an agreement was signed between Menachem Begin and Israeli Galili. ETZE"L members were informed on the radio station, The Voice of Fighting Zion: "There is no need for a Hebrew underground, and in the state of Israel we will be soldiers and builders. Its laws are obeyed because our laws are. And its government is respected because our government it." ETZE"L members began their integration into the IDF in individual units. The were given an identity number that began with '93' that identified them as members of ETZE"L. By the end of June, the process was completed under the direction of a headquarters established for that purpose at the ETZE"L headquarters.
In their battalions, ETZE"L participated in the explusion of the Egyptians in the Isdud area and in the conquest of Yavne on 4 June. At the end of October they attacked and took the village of Tarshiha in the north. They also tried to protect Mishmar Ha'Yarden which had been attacked three times by the Syrian army but without reinforcement by nearby IDF forces, the colony, identified with the BETA"R movement, fell to the Syrians.
In besieged Jerusalem, which was nominally outside the control of the Provisional Government, both ETZE"L and LEH"I continued to operate independently of the Haganah.
The Altalena (a pen name that Jabotinsky used) was a ship that sailed from France on a journey organized by ETZE"L members there in 1948, and on board were 900 immigrants who were recruited into ETZE"L units along with weapons and ammmunition. The ships had originally been scheduled to arrive on the day that the Mandate ended but due to delays, it did not set sail from France until 11 June after ETZE"L had agreed to join the IDF (except for Jerusalem) and pledged to refrain from independent procurement activities. There was a disagreement between Begin and the government over what to do with the weapons. Begin demanded that one-fifth of the weapons and ammunition be sent to ETZE"L forces in Jerusalem with the rest going to ETZE"L units that had already joined the IDF. Ben-Gurion agreed that one-fifth of the weapons should be sent to Jerusalem (but not necessarily to ETZE"L) but he insisted that the rest be handed over to the IDF.
The ship reached the shores of the country on 20 June during the First Truce and was then directed to Kfar Vitkin where ETZE"L members, headed by Menachem Begin, welcomed her. At Kfar Vitkin most of the immigrants (NB: To call them immigrants is deliberately misleading. They were brought to join the ranks of ETZE"L to fight as soldiers.) left the ship and the unloading of the weapons began. Without an agreement over the fate of the cargo, an armed confrontation developed between ETZE"L and the IDF forces that had been sent to take control of the shipment. Six ETZE"L fighters and two IDF soldiers were killed in the exchange. The ship with about 100 ETZE"L members headed by Begin, left the area and headed toward Tel Aviv where on 22 June it ran aground on a beach that was in front of the PALMA"CH headquarters. On the beach, ETZE"L members gathered on one side while IDF and PALMA"CH forces gahtered on the other. The affair ended when Ben-Gurion ordered the IDF to fire on the ship. One of the shells caused a fire onboard and the ETZE"L forces had to leave as the ammunition in the ship's hold began to explode. Ten more ETZE"L fighters and one IDF soldier were killed in the battle.
Following this incident, some 200 ETZE"L members were held for several weeks and the ETZE"L units in the IDF were broken up and their soldiers parceled out among regular army units.
2.7.7 ETZE"L in Jerusalem
Due to the ambiguous status of Jerusalem which was given international control by the partition plan, ETZE"L (as well as LEH"I) continued to operate there independently calling their units "the Jerusalem Battalion". The number of fighters in the city was about 400.
Even though the agreement ETZE"L had with Haganah (and later with the Provisional Government) did not include Jerusalem, there was cooperation between between them. ETZE"L participated in preparations for the departure of British forces from the city as part of Operation Kilshon (Trident) whose purpose was to take control of the areas the British were leaving. ETZE"L was given the task of securing the police academy and Sheikh Jarrah. The British left on 14 May. ETZE"L fighters stormed the Generali Building in the security zone and hoisted the national flag on it. Their men also seized and held the secret police building, the prison in the Russian Compound and the Court, and in cooperation with Haganah they also seized addtional targets. At noon ETZE"L took over the Police Academy but withdrew from Sheikh Jarrah after only capturing part of it after firefights with Arab forces that resulted in losses.
ETZE"L also participated in the fight to defend the Jewish Quarter in the Old City with two squads that operated in coordination with the Haganah commander. Until their surrender, five ETZE"L fighters killed and the rest captured (19 out of a total of 35 Jewish prisoners).
After the Arab armies invaded Eretz israel, ETZE"L units defended Ramat Rachel after the kibbutz was abandoned twice due to attack by Arab forces and then Egyptian forces. On 25 May two ETZE"L platoons entered the battle for the kibbutz and after fierce battles the attack was repulsed and they gained control of the area.
After the First Truce, ETZE"L's strangth in the Jerusalem area doubled to about 900 as new volunteers and members came to help in the conquest of the city. On 14 July they captured the village of Al-Malha (later the Malha neighborhood) aided by the GADN"A youth of the Haganah. The next day the Arabs mounted a counter-attack that did not succeed, but dozens of ETZE"L were killed or injured.
On 17 July, IDF forces in Jerusalem joined forces with ETZE"L and LEH"I in Operation Kedem, a plan to conquer the Old City. A battalion from the Etzioni Brigade was responsible for breaking in through the New Gate while a LEH"I company broke in between the New Gate and the Jaffa Gate while two ETZE"L units stood near New Gate. ETZE"L sappers broke through the Gate and then advanced a short distance into the Old City but their attack was halted by intense fire. Explosive charges of both Haganah and LEH"I failed to detonate so an order was given to withdraw and the attempt to conquer the Old City was abandoned.
After the assassination of Count Folke Bernadotte by members of LEH"I, the government issued an ultimatum to the ETZE"L in Jerusalem to disband. On 21 September, the soldiers and commanders appeared before the IDF reception bodies and joined their ranks.
2.7.8 Founding of the Herut Movement
After ETZE"L disbanded in the summer of 1948, Menachem Begin started the Herut Movement on the foundation of the Irgun Zvai Leumi, and led it. From its start, Herut demanded that the fighting continue, the partition plan be canceled and that there be no negotiations with the Arab states.
In the January 1949 elections to the Constituent Assembly (Knesset), the movement won 14 seats and became the fourth largest faction. In the elections there was also a list from the Revisionist Party from which ETZE"L grew, but this list did not reach the threshold so in 1950 the Revisionist Movement joined with the Herut Movement. This made Herut the continuation of the entire Revisionist Movement and also cemented the status of Herut as the mainstream of Revisionist Zionism.
In the early years, the Herut Movement was pushed by Ben-Gurion and MAPA"I to the margins of the political system with the slogan "without Herut and MAKA"I." Over the years, however, it entered the political mainstream and in 1977 it was at the center of the Likud list that won the Ninth Knesset elections and brought to power as Prime Minister, Menachen Begin, the former ETZE"L commander.
3 Language and Terminology
In addition to the names used by the organization's commanders and members, extensive use was made of internal names and expression for various places, bodies and functions. Here are a few of them: 
- מרתף martef/basement - the underground or underground activity
- sanitorium - a prison
- illness - in prison
- joker - British policeman
- opera - British police collaborators
- buttons - cops
- the Mossad - British Secret Service
- Main Kitchen - British Intelligence building in Jerusalem
- Sccks - secret
- celebration -
- exceeds - LEH"I member
- The Company - ETZE"L
- The Class - ETZE"L
- Tourists - members of ETZE"L in British Army
- SHA"D - nickname for defense personnel
- Mendelsshohn - nickname for Ze'ev Jabotinsky
- The Wall - the Western Wall
- managers - high commanders
- slick - alert for surprise inspection
- iron - weapons
- fruit - weapons
- Who is the Lord? - the commander's declaration before action
- Abi Gazant ("The main thing is health" in Yiddish) a blessing before going into action
4 The Legacy of the Organization and its Commemoration
During the early years of the State of Israel, there was no official recognition of the legacy of ETZE"L and LEH"I, and you did not hear their songs on the radio. The dominance of MAPA"I, which started in the days preceding the establishment of the state, continued through the first decades of its existence. To the Revisionist camp as a whole and to the "fighting family" (the name ETZE"L uses to describe itself) in particular, there was reason to believe that the policy of debliberately omitting them from the story of the revival (of Israel) was continuing. As early as 1949, Begin  demanded that the government grant ETZE"L and LEH"I members the same rights as Haganah members. At the same time, the Herut movement took measures to care for the needs of veteran underground fighter who were not supported by the government. Despite the lack of government support, the recognition they sought began to appear in the early 1950s. A monument designed by Hannah Orloff was erected in Ramat Gan, with the support of mayor Avraham Krinitzi, to memorialize Dov Gruner and the other Gallows Sacrifices. In 1954, a large audience arrived without a government representative. Acre Prison, which ETZE"L broke into in a large operation for which some of its fighters were sent to the gallows, was handed over to the Ministry of Health and turned into a mental hospital. It was not until 1984 that the facility was closed.
Over the years the political wing that ETZE"L was part of, gradually became part of the political mainstream. In 1964, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol decided to bring the remains of Ze'ev Jabotinsky to Israel for burial ( Jabotinsky had requested that his remains only be returned to Eretz Israel at government request). The ceremony took on a national character with large audiences from all parts of society and with the participation of the Prime Minister. The culmination of this process of reintegration reached it culmination with the change of power in 1977. The Israeli government headed by Begin decided to grant ETZE"L members a service ribbon called the ETZE"L ribbon. The Service Ribbon Division began in 1979 and this was the fourth service ribbon granted by the state of Israel after the Haganah Service Ribbon, the Volunteers Service Ribbon and the Guard (Mishmar) Service Ribbon (the Haganah Service Ribbon was first awarded beginning in 1958). ETZE"L was also not absent from the historical literature, from its part in the legacy of the struggle for independence and from writings and commemoration. Dozens of books financed by both the state and private sources reveal their activity during the years it operated.