Underground fighters 2018-02-19T22:11:59+00:00
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Underground fighters

The Haganah

It was established in June, 1920, as a successor to “The Watchman” (Hashomer).

The Haganah was the Hebrew Yishuv’s leading military underground organization in the Land of Israel at the time of the British Mandate. Originally, the Haganah was meant to defend the Jewish settlements against Arab attacks. Over time, it became the military force of the nascent state and it waged war against the British rule and it also brought illegal immigrants to the Land of Israel. In the early 1930s, the Haganah was under the control of the National Committee and was declared the defender of the entire Yishuv.


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 volunteered for the British police and served in Jewish guard units. They were policemen /policewomen serving under the British Mandate, but actually they were commanders and soldiers in the Haganah. When the British government issued the White Paper in 1939, which limited the immigration of Jews to the land of Israel and limited the acquisition of land by Jews, the Haganah brought illegal immigrants to the Land of Israel.

  • Eliyahu Golomb: He was considered the unofficial commander of the Haganah. For many years, his headquarters were located in his house.
  • Ya’akov Dori: He was chief of staff of the Haganah from 1939-1945. From 1946-1947, he headed a Haganah delegation to the United States, which dealt with the acquisition of weapons. Upon his return in 1947, he resumed his post. Later, he became the first chief of staff of the IDf, until the end of 1949.
  • Yitzhak Sadeh: He was the founder of the Palmach and its commander until 1945. He was the commander of the field companies (FOSH) and the commando arm of the Haganah. He served as the chief of staff of the Haganah from 1945-1947.
  • Israel Galili: He served aas commander of the national headquarters from 1947-1948.

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Night of the Trains

This was an operation in which British Mandate railways lines were sabotaged on November 1, 1945. This was one of the first acts carried out by members of the Meri even before it was officially founded and symbolized its establishment. On the night of the operation, Palmach forces sabotaged railway lines all over the Land of Israel, and they blew up three coast guard boats in the Jaffa and Haifa ports. Lehi and Etzel forces attacked the train station in Lod. The operation lifted the morale of the Yishuv following the harsh limitations on aliyah and settlement which were imposed by the British. It especially brought satisfaction to the leaders of the Yishuv and to the members of the Palmach and Haganah, who saw that they could successfully operate a large number of forces in different locations at the same time.

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King David Hotel Bombing

In response to Black Sabbath, the High Command of the Haganah, headed by Moshe Sneh, decided that the Meri would carry out a forceful attack against the British, one which he had previously refused to approve. At one point, the leaders of the Meri retracted, however, on July 22, 1946, the Etzel carried out the bombing. Milk churns containing explosives, attached to delay action detonators were placed in the restaurant on the first floor, adjacent to a supporting column of the building.

The explosives went off at 12:37 and the southern wing of the building collapsed on the people inside. Unlike most of the other acts carried out by Etzel against British institutions, this one took place in the middle of the day, when the building was filled with workers. A warning that had been sent giving sufficient time to evacuate the building was ignored resulting in 91 dead, 15 Jews among them. The tragic results of the bombing and the subsequent reactions caused a rethinking of the relations between the Haganah and the leadership of the Yishuv and the Etzel, as well as the disbanding of the Meri.

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The National Military Organization (Etzel)

It was established in Jerusalem in 1931 by commanders who had left the Haganah.

In 1931, there was a rift in the Haganah because some of its people did not agree with the policy of restraint toward Arab terrorism practiced by the Haganah. They maintained that only a policy of retaliation will put an end to the Arab terrorism against Jews. They broke away and formed an organization called “Organization B”. In 1937, they joined with members of Beitar and they established the Etzel.

At first, the Etzel concentrated on retaliating for the Arab attacks against the Jews. However, after the publication of the British White Paper in 1939, the British became the main target of the Etzel attacks. The horrifying news of the mass annihilation of the Jews of Europe, together with Britain’s refusal to allow Jewish refugees to enter the Land of Israel, led the Etzel to renew their struggle against the British Mandate in 1944. The Etzel attacked government institutions and the British responded with arrests.
After the UN decided on the Partition Plan in 1947, the Etzel retaliated against Arab bands in Haifa, Tira, Jerusalem and Jaffa. About one month after Israel declared its independence; the Etzel brought a ship, the Altalena, to Israel. The ship carried large amounts of weapons and 800 volunteers. Ben Gurion saw this as an attempt to undermine the authority and the unity of the State of Israel and the IDF. After the Etzel refused to hand over the weapons to the Haganah, the ship was shelled by the Haganah and it went up in flames off the shores of Tel Aviv. 17 Etzel fighters and three IDF soldiers were killed in the incident. That same day, Menachem Begin delivered a speech on the radio:
“There will not be a civil war. The enemy is at the gate. If there is a renewal of the attacks, we will all be brothers, standing together. Again, we will bear arms and we will fight shoulder to shoulder with the Palmach, shoulder to shoulder with the Haganah. … Help me to convince my people. Help me to convince them because brother must not bear arms against brother. Hebrew weapons must not be used against Hebrew fighters.”
Etzel forces and their people took an active part in the War of Independence and on September 21, 1948, members of the Etzel joined the IDF.

  • Ze’ev Jabotinsky: He was the “commander on chief” of the movement until his death in 1940.
  • David Raziel: In 1938, Ze’ev Jabotinsky appointed him commander of Etzel, becoming the fourth commander. Under his command, the Etzel carried out retaliatory attacks against Arabs all over the Land of Israel in response to the Arab riots. Jabotinsky met Raziel only once and he was deeply impressed.Raziel was killed in a military action in Iraq on behalf of the British when he was 30 years old.
  • Other leaders were Avraham Tahomi and Ya’akov Meridor.

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The Altalena Affair
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Acre Prison Break

The Ottoman fortress in Acre served the British as a government center, a prison and a gallows. At the beginning of 1947, approximately 90 Jewish prisoners from all the underground movements and about 700 Arab criminals were held there, The Etzel and Lehi commanders who were imprisoned in Acre understood that the only way they could escape would be with help from the outside. The operation was carefully planned. Explosives were smuggled in to blow up the gates and civilian clothes were smuggled in for the escapees. It was decided that only 41 prisoners, who had been sentenced to lengthy prison terms, would escape.

On Sunday, May 4, 1947 at 2:00 PM a combat engineering squad from the Etzel, dressed as telephone technicians, set out from Shuni Farm (Today it is Jabotinsky Park near Binyamina). They brought with them ladders, explosives, ropes, hooks and incursion equipment. At the same time, Etzel attack and escape forces, in the guise of a British military convoy, spread out around the prison. The break took place at 4:22 PM, with a tremendous blast which shook the walls of the prison. The attack was carried out by 34 fighters. While retreating, several were killed: the operation commander, Dov Cohen (“Shimshon”), two other Etzel fighters from the attack squad and six of the escaping prisoners. Five of the Etzel fighters from the attack squad were taken prisoner and tried by the British. Three of them were hanged. Eight of the escapees were also captured. 27 Etzel and Lehi fighters were freed. 182 Arab prisoners also took advantage of the opportunity and escaped.

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Lehi (Fighters for the Freedom of Israel)

The Lehi organization was founded in 1940 when a group led by “Yair”– Avraham Stern split from the Etzel following differences of opinion regarding policy and the methods of operating against the British rule. In October, 1939, the Etzel leadership agreed to stop attacking the British rule, however, Yair and his supporters could not accept this step and split with the Etzel. The Lehi was called the Stern Gang by the British.

חילוקי דעות עם האצ”ל בדבר המדיניות ושיטות הפעולה כנגד השלטו הבריטי. הנהגת האצ”ל התחייבה באוקטובר 1939 להפסיק את ההתקפות על השלטון הבריטי, וזה היה המניע לפרישה. הלח”י נקרא ע”י הבריטים “כנופיית שטרן” (The Stern Gang) על שם מייסדו – אברהם שטרן (שכינויו המחתרתי היה “יאיר”).

The founder of the Lehi, Avraham Stern – “Yair”- opposed ending the struggle against the British, which the Haganah and the Etzel had declared with the outbreak of World War II in order to enable the recruitment of all the forces to fight against the Nazis. Until the split, the Etzel saw itself as a typical military organization, meaning discipline was based on orders.
It was necessary for “The Revolutionary Underground”, founded by Yair, to be based on loyalty to ideas rather than on the basis of blind loyalty to commanders and to discipline.

  • יאיר (אברהם) שטרן: היה לוחם מחתרת ומשורר יהודי, והיה מייסדו ומפקדו הראשון של ארגון לח”י. נודע גם בשם “יאיר”, שהיה כינויו המחתרתי, על שם אלעזר בן יאיר, ממפקדי המרד הגדול נגד הרומאים ומפקד הקנאים במצדה. לכל אורך הדרך נרדפו חברי הארגון, ושטרן בראשם, בידי הבולשת הבריטית, שראתה מטרה עליונה בחיסול פעילותו. המצור הלך והתהדק סביב שטרן, עד שבפברואר 1942 נתפס בידי אנשי הבולשת ונרצח בירייה עם לכידתו, בן 32 היה במותו.
  • יצחק שמיר: אימץ את הכינוי המחתרתי “מיכאל”. במשך תקופה בה התנהל אחריו מצוד של הבולשת הבריטית, הוא גידל זקן ופיאות, לבש קפוטה וכובע, וכינה את עצמו “הרב שמיר”. בדצמבר 1941 נאסר ונכלא במחנה המעצר מזרעה. לאחר מכן נמלט מהכלא והיה חלק מההנהגה המשולשת של הארגון לאחר מות יאיר. לימים היה שמיר לראש ממשלת ישראל.
  • ישראל אלדד: מנהיג הלח”י; סופר, משורר, פובליציסט, מתרגם ואיש חינוך.

חיילים אלמונים
מילים ולחן: אברהם (יאיר) שטרן,
ביצוע: שלמה ארצי
חַיָּלִים אַלְמוֹנִים הִנְּנוּ בְּלִי מַדִּים
וּסְבִיבֵנוּ אֵימָה וְצַלְמָוֶת.
כֻּלָּנוּ גֻּיַּסְנוּ לְכָל הַחַיִּים,
מִשּׁוּרָה מְשַׁחְרֵר רַק הַמָּוֶת.

בְּיָמִים אֲדֻמִּים שֶׁל פְּרָעוֹת וְדָמִים,
בַּלֵּילוֹת הַשְׁחֹרִים שֶׁל יֵאוּשׁ.
בֶּעָרִים, בַּכְּפָרִים אֶת דִּגְלֵנוּ נָרִים
וְעָלָיו הֲגָנָה וְכִבּוּשׁ.

לֹא גֻּיַּסְנוּ בַּשּׁוֹט כַּהֲמוֹן עֲבָדִים
כְּדֵי לִשְׁפֹּךְ בַּנֵּכָר אֶת דָּמֵנוּ.
רְצוֹנֵנוּ – לִהְיוֹת לְעוֹלָם בְּנֵי חוֹרִין;
חֲלוֹמֵנוּ – לָמוּת בְּעַד אַרְצֵנוּ.

וּמִכָּל עֲבָרִים רִבְבוֹת מִכְשׁוֹלִים
שָׂם גּוֹרָל אַכְזָרִי אֶת דַּרְכֵּנוּ,
אַךְ אוֹיְבִים, מְרַגְּלִים וּבָתֵּי אֲסוּרִים
לֹא יוּכְלוּ לַעֲצֹר בַּעֲדֵנוּ.

אִם אֲנַחְנוּ נִפֹּל בָּרְחוֹבוֹת, בַּבָּתִּים,
יִקְבְּרוּנוּ בַּלַּיְלָה בַּלָּאט;
בִּמְקוֹמֵנוּ יָבוֹאוּ אַלְפֵי אֲחֵרִים
לִלְחֹם וְלִכְבֹּשׁ עֲדֵי עַד.

בְּדִמְעוֹת אִמָּהוֹת שַׁכּוּלוֹת מִבָּנִים
וּבְדַם תִּינוֹקוֹת טְהוֹרִים
כִּבְמֶלֶט נַדְבִּיק הַגּוּפוֹת לִלְבֵנִים
וּבִנְיַן הַמּוֹלֶדֶת נָקִים.

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This Sliding Bar can be switched on or off in theme options, and can take any widget you throw at it or even fill it with your custom HTML Code. Its perfect for grabbing the attention of your viewers. Choose between 1, 2, 3 or 4 columns, set the background color, widget divider color, activate transparency, a top border or fully disable it on desktop and mobile.

הבהרה חשובה :

אתר זה מיועד למטרות למידה בלבד, ולא לשום מטרה מסחרית.

בשימוש באתר זה, הנך מצהיר שכניסתך לאתר היא לצורך לימוד וקבלת סקירה על חידון הציונות והמורשת בלבד ולא לכל מטרה אחרת.