The Haganah was established in June, 1920 as the successor to “Hashomer”. The Haganah was the chief underground military organization of the Hebrew Yishuv in the Land of Israel in the days of the British Mandate. At first, the Haganah was meant to defend Jewish settlements against Arab attacks. It evolved into a military force of the nascent state. It fought the British government and it brought illegal immigrants to the country. In the early 1930s, the Haganah was under the command of the Jewish National Council as the defender of the entire Yishuv.
The Organization’s Policies
In the period of the riots, the days when the Arabs were attacking the Jewish settlements, the Haganah espoused restraint, meaning defending the settlements against attacks and avoiding attacking any Arab settlement.
Meanwhile, the Arabs carried out many vicious attacks against the British because of their opposition to the British Mandate, leading the British Mandate’s government to agree to cooperate with the Haganah. Jews served in Jewish guard units (“Hanotarim”) and volunteered for the “Jewish Settlement Police”, which was subordinate to the British police and helped to secure Jewish settlements and sensitive locations, such as railroad stations.
“Outside the fences” is the name given to the offensive, rather than defensive operations conducted by the Haganah in which they attacked the rioting Arabs in their bases, beyond the fences of Jewish settlements. These acts were illegal and not coordinated with the British. They were carried out by small, highly-trained forces, “FOSH”, field companies under the command of Yitzhak Sadeh, HISH, field forces and PUM, special companies. The main thrust of the Haganah’s efforts was participating in establishing “Stockade and Watchtower” settlements and in “Aliyah B”, the illegal immigration to the Land of Israel.