oppose the Arabs and the British. The undergrounds and their activity provoked a stormy reaction in the leadership of the Jewish Yishuv and in the public as well, with two central questions at the heart of the issue. The first: Is it right to achieve the goal of statehood through terrorism? The second dealt with the issue of timing – World War II was raging: Is it right to fight the British while they are at war with the Nazi enemy? Ben Gurion was quoted as saying. “We must assist the British in the war as if there were no White Paper and we must resist the White Paper as if there were no war.”
The British viewed the underground movements, “Etzel” and “Lehi” as terrorist organizations. They called the “Lehi” “The Stern Gang”. A large part of the Yishuv and its leadership renounced the organizations’ actions against the British. They claimed that some of the actions were immoral and hurt the reputation of the Yishuv in the eyes of the world.
Eventually, the State of Israel and the people of Israel recognized the importance of the underground movements in the establishment of the State of Israel. Their underground actions and especially, their daring greatly influenced the Jewish Yishuv in the Land of Israel and played an important role in the struggle to establish a state. Their actions severely harmed the reputation of the British throughout the world and were a contributing factor in the decision of the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine to end the British Mandate in the Land of Israel. The “Etzel” and “Lehi” fighters took part in the War of Independence and served in the IDF. In 1980, the State of Israel recognized “Lehi’s” contribution as a body that aided in the establishment of the State of Israel.
“Anonymous Soldiers” – A little about the life of the underground fighters
The members of the underground movements were young men and women that kept their membership in the underground a secret even from their families and closest friends. They used nicknames in order to keep their true identity secret, as much as possible. The commanders of the organizations were young people in their 20s and 30s. Late at night, after the youth went to sleep, the sleep of the just, and the parents had turned off the lights, that’s when the underground action started…
The members carried out a variety of missions such as putting up posters, carrying information from one place to another, broadcasting on the underground radio and preparing safe-houses. In addition, there were military exercises, preparation of improvised weapons and acquiring weapons. The weapons and the equipment were kept in a “slick”, a hiding place which neither the British nor the public could see. A large part of the action of the underground involved daring missions, such as placing bombs and grenades in locations which were used by the British, in hotels and on bridges, assisting in daring jailbreaks of underground prisoners and targeted assassinations.
So what else has to be known about the underground organizations?