HAGANAH (Heb. הַגָּנָה), the underground military organization of the yishuv in Ereẓ Israel from 1920 to 1948. The idea of establishing a defense organization that would protect the yishuv throughout Ereẓ Israel was born during the Ottoman period. The head of *Ha-Shomer, Israel *Shoḥat, sent a memorandum to the Executive of the Zionist Organization at the end of 1912, suggesting the establishment of a country-wide organization for self-defense around Ha-Shomer.
With the British conquest of Ereẓ Israel, it seemed that there would be no need for a Jewish defense organization, for a European power had assumed responsibility for the preservation of civil order with the aid of legally constituted forces from the yishuv. Especially in favor of this position was Vladimir *Jabotinsky. He viewed the perpetuation of the *Jewish Legion, which was established in the framework of the British army during World War i as a garrison in Palestine, as the best assurance of the peace and security of the yishuv. The Arab assault on the Jewish settlements in Upper Galilee in March 1920 (see *Tel Ḥai), the imminent danger to the settlements in Lower Galilee in the summer of 1920, and, above all, the failure of the self-defense activities openly organized by Jabotinsky during the Passover riots in Jerusalem in 1920 destroyed these illusions. Those who regarded themselves responsible for the defense of the yishuv, members of Ha-Shomer and soldiers of the Jewish Legion, came to realize that it was impossible to depend upon the British authorities and that the yishuv must create an independent defense force, completely free of foreign authority – in a word, an underground – for both security and political considerations. In contrast to Ha-Shomer, this organization should encompass masses of people and be subordinate to a public Jewish authority. The *Aḥdut ha-Avodah (A) conference at Kinneret in June 1920 accepted Ha-Shomer's resolution to disband and declared its own responsibility "to concern itself with the arrangement of defense matters." A committee was chosen "to organize a defense organization," and among its members were Shoḥat and Eliahu *Golomb. In September 1920 the *Gedud ha-Avodah (the "Joseph Trumpeldor Labor and Defense Legion") was established with the participation of ex-members of Ha-Shomer. In addition to their tasks as workers and guards, the members of the Gedud were to serve as a reserve force for the Haganah. In December 1920, the *Histadrut accepted responsibility for guard and defense matters at its founding convention, and at the first Histadrut council in March 1921, a defense committee was set up, consisting of Israel Shoḥat, Eliahu Golomb, Joseph *Baratz, Ḥayyim *Sturmann, and Levi Shkolnik (*Eshkol), and the first steps were taken toward training members and purchasing arms.
The riots of May 1921 caught the new defense organization unprepared, but they proved the necessity for its existence. Members were sent to Vienna to begin organizing the consignment of arms (revolvers and ammunition) to Palestine by various means (in beehives, refrigerators, steamrollers, etc.). In addition, the first course for Haganah instructors was run under the command of an ex-Legionnaire, Elimelekh Zelikovich ("Avner"). On Nov. 2, 1921 ("Balfour Day"), an organized group of defenders repelled an attack of an Arab mob on the Jewish quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem and prevented the slaughter of its inhabitants.
During the 1920s
At the outset of Haganah activities, there was friction in the organization's leadership, originating in disagreement over defense systems between ex-Ha-Shomer people and Golomb's group. The Histadrut leadership supported Golomb's group, and the friction finally led to the disassociation of the Ha-Shomer people from the activities of the Haganah and their concentration in the Gedud ha-Avodah, in which they created an underground within an underground by developing an independent network to acquire arms, providing training courses, and pursuing an unsuccessful attempt to develop ties with the Soviet Union (1926). Their major achievement was the arms' cache at Kefar Giladi.
When the ex-Ha-Shomer members left the Haganah framework, the leadership of defense affairs remained, in effect, in the hands of an ex-Legionnaire, Yosef Hecht, who received his salary from the Histadrut Executive and maintained loose contact with the secretary of the Histadrut, David *Ben-Gurion. He was aided in his work, especially in the northern areas, by Shaul Meirov (*Avigur) of kevuẓat Kinneret. In the 1920s the Haganah was composed of separate branches in the major cities, a few moshavot, and a few kevuẓot and kibbutzim. In the cities there were also local committees composed of people who collected money for defense purposes. Each city had a Haganah commander who received a salary from the local Haganah committee. All the rest of the members, whose number did not exceed a few hundred, served as volunteers, training on Saturdays and in the evenings – mostly with revolvers and hand grenades – and being mobilized for guard duty on the border line between the yishuv and the Arab population during critical days (the anniversary of the *Balfour Declaration – November 2, the Ninth of Av, the festival of al-Nabī Mūsā in Jerusalem, etc.). A national officers' course, which was held on Mount Carmel near Haifa (1925), strengthened the contact among the handful of commanders. From time to time, meetings were held among the chief commanders, who formulated the "Constitution of the Haganah" in 1924. Primitive arms caches were set up in Shekhunat Borochov near Tel Aviv, in Geva, Kinneret, and Ayyelet ha-Shahar. In reality, the Haganah in the 1920s was an underground of such limited scope that it was not necessary to subject its activities to civilian control. Characteristic of the spirit of this period were activities such as the assassination of Jacob Israel de *Haan in June 1924 or the blowing up of a house near the Western Wall in September 1927 in response to Arab provocation of Jewish worshipers.
The riots of August 1929 brought about a complete change in the Haganah position. During the first days of the riots, when there were almost no British security forces in the country and the Arab police force did not carry out its tasks, the meager number of Haganah volunteers with their limited supply of arms filled the gap and saved the Jewish communities of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Haifa from mass slaughter. In contrast, massacre and destruction of property were rampant in those places in which the Haganah was absent or in which its organization was deficient (Hebron, Safed, Moza). A deep impression was made by the defense of Ḥuldah, in which a handful of Haganah members fought against thousands of Arab attackers until British forces evacuated them. Old rivalries were forgotten during the riots, and ex-members of Ha-Shomer joined the Haganah fighters and took part in organizing the defense of the cities and the settlements. They also turned their central arms cache in Kefar Giladi over to the Haganah.
After 1929, the need to maintain, expand, and strengthen the Haganah was recognized by all parts of the yishuv. Its central command, i.e., Hecht, was ordered to broaden the framework of the Haganah and facilitate greater public control over the organization and its activities, and the civil institutions of the yishuv were also called upon to provide full cooperation with the Haganah command. Hecht, who objected to these changes because they went against his concept of the clandestine nature of the Haganah, was relieved of his command. The crisis of command led to the secession of a group of commanders in Jerusalem, led by Avraham Tehomi, that joined together with Revisionist groups to form the *Irgun Ẓeva'i Le'ummi (iẒl) in 1931. In the same year civil institutions of the yishuv arrived at an agreement, by which the national command of the Haganah was established on the basis of equal representation – three representatives of the Histadrut (Golomb, Dov *Hos, and Meir Rutberg) and three non-labor representatives (Dov Gefen, Issachar Sitkov, and Sa'adyah Shoshani). The moving spirit in the command was Golomb, whose personal influence was greater than his position as one of the six members of the command and whose modest apartment on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv was open night and day to people of the Haganah and served as a kind of headquarters of the organization.
The years 1931–35 were a period of quiet development for the Haganah. The structure of the organization hardly changed, and the major administrative work was centered in the three urban branches, whose commanders were Ya'akov Pat (Jerusalem), Elimelekh Zelikovich (alias Avner, Tel Aviv), and Ya'akov Dostrovsky (*Dori, Haifa). These branches constituted the mainstay of the organization, and the membership in each branch numbered in the hundreds. Training methods, however, did not change and were concentrated, as before, in the study of the revolver and hand grenade in the cities and the use of the rifle in the villages. The influence of the national command strengthened with the institution of systematic annual officers' courses (in Ḥuldah and Gevat) and the development of the communications branch (consisting basically of visual communication – flags, lanterns, heliographs) and intelligence. The national command also handled the acquisition of arms, especially from abroad. In 1935 rifles and rifle ammunition began to be sent in barrels of white cement from Belgium. On Nov. 18, 1935, the British authorities confiscated 537 barrels containing arms in Jaffa port, and the incident aroused substantial excitement among the Arabs of Palestine. The Haganah also began to develop workshops to produce hand grenades. The rural settlements began to organize into "blocs," and by 1936 about 20 of these blocs were in existence. At the head of each was a bloc commander who was responsible for the training of its members, acquiring arms and protecting them, and gathering intelligence on the security situation in the area. The position of the Haganah in each bloc was largely dependent upon the initiative of its commander.
During this period, the basic principles of the Haganah consolidated as follows: to maintain complete independence of any non-Jewish factor; to accept the authority of the Jewish national institutions – especially the Political Department of the *Jewish Agency; to maintain a national framework independent of political parties; and to shun militarism for its own sake. The organization was built upon the devotion and voluntary service of thousands of members. The British authorities were aware of the existence of the Haganah, but initially took no serious steps to follow its activities, arrest its commanders or members, or find its arms caches.
The Policy of Restraint
The years 1936–39, those of Arab rebellion, in which the yishuv in both the cities and the countryside was under a perpetual siege and was attacked by Arab guerilla bands, were the years in which the Haganah matured and developed from a militia into a military body. It confronted riots by using methods learned from the previous disturbances. The Jewish quarters and settlements in the cities and countryside were surrounded by defense devices: wire fences, concrete positions, trenches, communication trenches, and floodlights. The Arabs made practically no attempts to attack these fortified areas, but they destroyed the harvests in the fields, chopped down orchards and forests, tried to disrupt Jewish transportation on the roads, and set out on a terrorist campaign that affected casual passersby, women, and children.
With the outbreak of the riots, the Jewish Agency declared that the yishuv's response to Arab acts of terror would be "restraint" (havlagah). In addition to the moral side of the question, the Jewish Agency believed that a policy of restraint would lead to a positive response from the British authorities who would provide the beleaguered Jews with arms. In fact, the authorities cooperated with the Jewish Agency by establishing a broad formation of Jewish auxiliary police (ghafirs) dressed in special police uniforms and provided with arms (rifles, and, after a time, light machine guns). During the period of the riots, this formation developed, and its members were formed into the Jewish Settlement Police (jsp), whose stations were placed in all agricultural settlements and in many urban quarters in the country. This force served as a cover for the activities and training of members of the Haganah. Later the members of the Haganah began to "go beyond the fence" and to develop forms of active fighting; escorts and reconnaissance units went into the fields and roads and other groups set ambushes for Arab terrorists. In 1937 field squads (Peluggot Sadeh) were established under the command of Yiẓḥak *Sadeh and Elijah Ben-Ḥur, trained specifically for war against terrorist gangs. These units gained battle experience with the establishment of the Special Night Squads (sns) under the command of Orde *Wingate, a British captain who was a proven friend of the Jewish cause. During the years of the riots, the Haganah protected the establishment of over 50 new settlements in new areas of the country (the *Stockade and Watchtower settlements). All attacks of Arab gangs that came to uproot these settlements (the largest of these were the attacks on Tirat Ẓevi, Ḥanitah, and Ma'oz) were repulsed.
In 1937 iẒl split and part of its members, together with its commander, Tehomi, returned to the Haganah. Only the Revisionist members continued the independent existence of the organization. It did not engage particularly in defending the yishuv, but in 1937–38 it carried out counter-terrorist acts against Arab civilians on the roads and in markets, from which the Haganah disassociated itself for moral and political reasons. Unofficial cooperation with the British authorities did not deflect the Haganah from its independent course. The demand of the authorities that the Haganah be disbanded and its arms be turned in was rejected, and the Haganah even increased its efforts to enlarge its supply of arms. The underground industry for the production of arms was enlarged. In 1937 an agreement was reached between the emissary of the Haganah, Yehudah *Arazi, and the Polish government whereby the Poles would supply the Haganah with arms (rifles, ammunition, and machine guns) that would be transported to Palestine in steamrollers and various types of machinery. Haganah instructors in Poland were also allowed to utilize Polish arms in training young Jews who were going to settle in Palestine. The Haganah was active in organizing the clandestine emigration of Zionist youth from Europe that began in 1934, and until the outbreak of World War ii, it assisted the landing of close to 6,000 "illegal" immigrants on the shores of Palestine.
At the end of the riots in Palestine, the number of men and women in the 20 branches of the Haganah reached 25,000. Its arms stores contained about 6,000 rifles and more than 220 machine guns (in addition to the arms of the jsp). Changes were made in its high command. In 1937, Yoḥanan *Ratner was appointed head of the national command by the Executive of the Jewish Agency, and at the end of 1939 a general staff was established, headed by Ya'akov Dostrovsky (Dori). To finance the activities of the Haganah, a special system of donations and taxes, called Kofer ha-Yishuv, was organized, which continued to exist until the establishment of the State of Israel.
During World War ii
With the anti-Zionist turn in British policy (White Paper of May 1939), a clash of opinion broke out in the yishuv in relation to the Haganah's main task. Non-labor circles wished to limit its activities to guarding settlements and urban quarters against Arab attackers. The Jewish Agency, however, wanted to turn the Haganah into the military arm of the yishuv's struggle against the British White Paper policy, which was also the desire of most members of the Haganah. In 1941 the crisis was settled with the establishment of a security committee composed of representatives of all circles in the yishuv and given control over the Haganah.
With the outbreak of World War ii, the Haganah was faced with new problems. On the one hand, it actively supported the volunteering to the Jewish units that were established in the framework of the British army. Many of the founders and members of the Haganah joined these units and did much to foster Jewish leadership in them and preserve their Zionist character. The members of the Haganah also developed networks for the clandestine acquisition of arms within the British army, and they cared for Jewish survivors and refugees in the countries of Europe in which they were stationed at the close of the war.
At the same time, the general staff continued its activities in Palestine and developed the defense forces of the Haganah itself. Its members were divided into a "Guard Force," based on older members, for the static defense of the settlements, and a "Field Force," based on younger members (up to the age of 35), who were trained for active defense activities. A special paramilitary youth movement (*Gadna) was established to train youth between the ages of 14 and 18. In addition, courses were held for commanders of all ranks, among which the most important was the annual course for platoon leaders at Juʿāra near Ein ha-Shofet. The secret arms industry also expanded and produced mortars, shells, and submachine guns. National general defense programs were formulated in the yishuv (Program A in 1941, Program b in 1945). Finally the intelligence service of the Haganah (Shay – short for sherut yedi'ot) was developed and reached a very high level of effectiveness.
In 1941, a mobilized formation of the Haganah – the *Palmaḥ (short for Peluggot Maḥaẓ – "crack units") – was established. It was a regular underground army whose units were located in kibbutzim in all parts of the country. The members of the Palmah earned a substantial amount of their living expenses by agricultural labor (14 days a month), and they received excellent training. When the German army stood at the gates of Egypt, contact was reestablished between the Haganah and the British military authorities and joint efforts were carried out in which hundreds of Palmaḥ members received commando training by British officers. At a later time, a paratroop unit was established in this cooperative framework, and 32 of its members parachuted in Europe into enemy territory to organize Jewish youth in Nazi-occupied territory for resistance against the Nazis. From the end of 1939, the Haganah legally published a monthly entitled Ma'arakhot that was devoted to military thought and studies of military planning.
In general, however, the British authorities were hostile to the Haganah and saw it as an obstacle to their anti-Jewish policy. In 1939–40 many members of the Haganah were imprisoned and searches were carried out to locate the arms caches. The British military forces met with opposition that gradually reached the stage of bloodshed (Ramat ha-Kovesh, 1943), and show trials were held against Haganah members accused of stealing arms from British military depots. In 1944 the dissident underground organizations (iẒl and *Loḥamei Ḥerut Israel – Leḥi) began attacking the British, against the established policy of the Jewish Agency. The Haganah was charged with stopping the activities of iẒl after the latter refused to heed the warnings of the Jewish Agency. This task (called the "saison") was carried out mainly by volunteers from the Palmaḥ. This mission aroused bitter feelings, even in the ranks of those who carried it out, mainly because some of the imprisoned members of iẒl were turned over to the British authorities.
The Policy of Resistance
A short time after the end of World War ii, when it became clear that the British government would not abandon its anti-Zionist policy of the 1939 White Paper, the Jewish Agency charged the Haganah with leading the "Jewish resistance movement" against this policy. A special committee (Committee X) was established to control the activities of this movement. The implementation of the resistance plan was entrusted to Moshe *Sneh, then head of the national command, and Yiẓḥak Sadeh, acting chief of staff. In order to coordinate all underground activities, an agreement was arrived at with iẒl and Leḥi. The insurgent activities in this common framework began on Nov. 1–2, 1945, with the coordinated attack on rail lines and equipment. At the center of the resistance activities was the "illegal" mass immigration from Europe and North Africa, whose organization on land and sea devolved on the Haganah and its various arms: the *Beriḥah and the Organization ("Mosad") for "Illegal *Immigration." In Palestine, units of the Palmah destroyed army and police equipment, and the Haganah organized mass demonstrations that clashed with the British police and army. In addition to these, iẒl and Leḥi carried out their activities with the approval of the Haganah. The activities were accompanied by illegal written and oral propaganda (the Ḥomah wall newspaper and the clandestine broadcasts of the "Kol ha-Haganah"). On June 17, 1946, these activities reached their height with the blowing up of all the bridges on the borders of Palestine by the Haganah forces. About two weeks later, on June 29 ("Black Saturday"), the British authorities responded by imprisoning the members of the Jewish Agency Executive and the Va'ad Le'ummi and by vigorous searches in the kibbutzim in order to catch members of the Palmaḥ and uncover the arms caches of the Haganah (a large store was uncovered at Yagur).
After "Black Saturday," the Executive of the Jewish Agency called for a pause in the resistance, but iẒl and Leḥi refused to obey this order and continued their armed attacks. The Haganah limited its armed struggle to attempts to score direct hits against the operational devices installed to interfere with "illegal" immigration (radar devices, boats that deported immigrants to Cyprus, etc.). The "illegal" immigration also increased and reached new heights with the refugee ship Exodus 1947 (summer 1947) and the two giant ships, Pan Crescent and Pan York, which set sail at the end of 1947 with 15,000 immigrants on their decks. These actions were greatly aided by the Haganah delegation to Europe, headed by Naḥum Kramer (Shadmi), that organized Haganah units in the Jewish dp camps in Central Europe and Italy and in other Jewish population centers (France, Romania, Hungary, etc.). In Palestine the Haganah concerned itself with the security of settlements in new areas of the country, such as the northern Negev (11 settlements were established simultaneously at the close of the Day of Atonement, 1946), the Judean Mountains, and Upper Galilee. A substantial number of these settlers received military training in the Palmaḥ.
The commissions of inquiry that visited Palestine at the time (the Anglo-American Commission and the un Special Commission on Palestine) met with representatives of the Haganah and drew conclusions that substantially affected the formulation of policy in 1947, namely, that in the event that a political solution desired by the Jews was arrived at, the Haganah would be able to withstand any attack, whether by the Arabs of Palestine or those of the neighboring states, without outside aid. In the spring of 1947, when a political solution began to be worked out (namely the un plan for the partition of Palestine), David Ben-Gurion took it upon himself to direct the general policy of the Haganah, especially its preparation for the impending Arab attack, and appointed Israel *Galili head of the national command. The Haganah budget was substantially increased, and the purchase of arms was expanded by the emissary of the Haganah, Ḥayyim Slavin, who concentrated upon the acquisition of machinery to manufacture arms and ammunition from the United States. Preparations were made for the formation of new services and first and foremost an air force, which was initiated in the framework of the Haganah before the outbreak of World War ii. By the eve of the War of Independence there were 45,000 members in the Haganah, about 10,000 of whom were in the Field Force and more than 3,000 in the Palmaḥ.
At the outbreak of the War of Independence, the Haganah was prepared for its defense tasks. The Jewish settlements were fortified, and in accordance with a Haganah tradition from the days of Tel Ḥai, even settlements completely cut off from the main areas of Jewish settlement were not abandoned (such as the Eẓyon Bloc, the settlements of the Negev, and Yeḥi'am), although holding them cost the Haganah great efforts. The Haganah also increased its retaliatory actions against the attacks of Arab gangs on Jewish traffic, and the movement of vehicles was guarded by armed escorts. A general mobilization was declared in the yishuv, but the first major blows of the war fell on the mobilized formations of the Haganah, the jsp, and units of the Palmah, which in a short period of time comprised three brigades (Yiftaḥ, Harel, and Negev). At the same time the quick mobilization and training of the Field Force began, and it was divided into seven brigades (Golani, Karmeli, Alexandroni, Kiryati, Givati, Eẓyoni, and the Seventh Brigade). Superhuman efforts were made to purchase arms of every type, including heavy arms and planes in America and Europe.
In the first four months of the war the Haganah engaged mainly in defending the positions of the yishuv. One of the reasons for its defensive stance was the presence of the British army, which, during its evacuation from the country, interfered in battles, usually to the advantage of the Arabs. Great achievements were made in these defensive actions, such as repulsing an attack on Tirat Ẓevi, the Eẓyon Bloc, and convoys to Jerusalem and other places, but losses were very heavy (about 1,200 civilians and soldiers, including the 35 fighters, called the "Lamed He," on a mission to the Eẓyon Bloc and 42 people in a convoy to Yeḥi'am). The feeling in the yishuv and in the world at large was that the Haganah had overrated its ability to withstand the attacking forces, and this feeling made itself felt in the international attitude to the Jewish prospects in the Palestine conflict.
In the beginning of April 1948, however, a great change took place in the activity of the Haganah, that was connected with the completion of the organization of the new brigades and the first large shipments of arms that had arrived from Europe. The beginning of this turn came with Operation Naḥshon, in which the road to besieged Jerusalem was broken through and the major fortifications on the hills on both sides of the road were captured. During the same period, the attacks of semi-regular Arab forces on Mishmar ha-Emek and Ramat Yohanan, whose purpose was to break through to Haifa, were repulsed. A series of conquests began, starting with the capture of Tiberias (April 18) and followed by the battle for Haifa, which ended with Haganah forces holding the entire city. Safed was captured on May 12, and the next day Arab Jaffa surrendered to the Haganah command. With the evacuation of British forces from Jerusalem, Haganah forces controlled the new city, but the Jewish quarter of the Old City was forced to surrender to the Arab Legion of Transjordan on May 28. The Eẓyon Bloc also fell to the Arab Legion.
On May 15, 1948, Haganah forces faced the armies of the surrounding Arab states that had invaded Palestine. These were large armies whose equipment, including cannons and tanks, outweighed that of the Haganah. The assault of the Syrian army on the northern Jordan Valley was halted in a series of desperate battles, in which the Haganah used its first cannons. Forces of the Iraqi army were stopped at the borders of the hills of Samaria. The assault of the Arab Legion and the Egyptian army on Jerusalem, accompanied by indiscriminate cannon bombardment on the city, was repulsed. Heavy battles were waged in the Latrun area on the highway to Jerusalem. When the Haganah proved unable to occupy the Latrun area it paved a temporary road to the city, south of Latrun (the "Burma Road"), and thus ensured communication with Jerusalem. In the south, the advance of the Egyptian army was halted by the Palmah, the Givati Brigade, and members of the settlements in the area, including Yad Mordekhai and Negbah.
In the midst of these battles, the provisional government of Israel decided to turn the Haganah into the army of the state. The transition was basically a formality, but it symbolized the end of an era. In the Order of the Day of May 31, 1948, the minister of defense, David Ben-Gurion, announced that with the establishment of the State of Israel, the Haganah abandoned its underground character and became the regular army of the state. The name of the Haganah was incorporated into the official name of the army of the new state: Ẓeva Haganah le-Israel (Israel Defense Forces).
Dinur, Haganah; Z. Gilad and M. Meged (eds.), Sefer ha-Palmaḥ, 2 vols. (1955); Ha-Haganah be-Tel-Aviv (1956); Y. Avidar, Ba-Derekh le-Ẓahal (1970); Y. Bauer, From Diplomacy to Resistance (1970); N. Lorch, The Edge of the Sword (19682); M. Mardor, Strictly Illegal (1964); Y. Allon, Shield of David (1970); idem, The Making of Israel's Army (1970).
Underground military defense organization for Jewish community in Palestine, 1920–1948.
The Haganah ("defense") was founded in June 1920 by the Labor Zionist Party Ahdut ha-Avodah in response to Arab riots in April. Its military and organizational complexity increased as the conflict with the Palestinian Arabs intensified during the Mandate era. By the time full scale Arab–Jewish warfare erupted in Palestine following the November 1947 United Nations partition resolution, the Haganah was well positioned to serve as the Yishuv's main armed force and to become the core element of the Israel Defense Force (IDF).
In December 1920 the Haganah was placed under the direct control of the newly created Histadrut, headed by David Ben-Gurion. After the 1929 riots, the Haganah expanded into a Yishuv-wide defense force, and a six-member civilian National Command council was established, led by Eliyahu Golomb. The 1936–1939 Arab Revolt was a watershed event in the development of the Haganah. In the process of responding to the rebellion it developed new doctrines and structures and became an army capable of taking offensive military actions. The Haganah mobilized Jewish youth for military training, established officers' courses, and set up arms depots and underground small arms factories. Elite units were formed under the command of Yitzhak Sadeh, who would also become a major figure in the Palmah and the IDF.
The military doctrine of the Haganah during the 1920s and 1930s was based on self-restraint (havlagah). As the Arab Revolt intensified, those most opposed to havlagah split off and in 1937 formed the Irgun Zvaʾi Leʾumi, which committed retaliatory acts of terrorism against Arab civilians. In 1940 some Irgun members, led by Abraham Stern, rejected the Irgun's wartime truce with Britain and founded the "Stern Gang," also known as LEHI.
In 1938 the British created a Jewish military unit for counterinsurgency missions against the Arabs, the Special Night Squads. They were trained and commanded by Orde Wingate and drew volunteers from the Haganah, even though the Haganah was technically illegal according to the Mandatory government. Wingate's commando tactics greatly influenced the Haganah and later the IDF. Yigal Allon (Palmah commander) and Moshe Dayan were Wingate protégés.
In 1939 control over the Haganah was transferred to the MAPAI-dominated Jewish Agency, which was headed by Ben-Gurion. A professional Military General Staff was established and Yaʿakov Dori became the Haganah's first chief of staff. The Haganah ran illegal immigration operations (Aliyah Bet) during and after World War II to circumvent the 1939 White Paper restrictions. At the same time, Britain supported the creation of an elite strike force, the Palmah (Plugot Mahatz, or "shock companies") in May 1941, and Haganah members enlisted in the British Army's Jewish Brigade. When Britain refused to lift the White Paper restrictions after the war, the Haganah and Palmah joined with the Irgun and LEHI to form the Hebrew Resistance Movement (1945–1946). The undergrounds coordinated military operations against British targets in Palestine. The harsh British crackdown on the Yishuv in June 1946 convinced Ben-Gurion to end the Haganah's participation.
By 1947 the Haganah had evolved into a cohesive military organization with British Army professionalism and combat experience. The original Palmah battalions had expanded to three full brigades, and the Haganah grew to twelve brigades. On the eve of the first Arab–Israel war, the Haganah had a nascent air force, medical and signal corps, and intelligence units, with membership totaling 60,000. The bulk of Jewish fighters during the Arab–Israel War of 1948 came from Haganah ranks.
On 28 May 1948 Order Number 4 of the Provisional Government declared the establishment of a single national army with a unified national command, to be called the Israel Defense Force (Zva Haganah le-Yisrael, or ZAHAL). All independent military organizations were to be dismantled and absorbed into the IDF. The Haganah's personnel and command structure became the main elements of the new Israeli army and Dori became the IDF's first chief of staff. Many Haganah veterans would later become generals in the IDF, including Dayan, Yigael Yadin, Mordechai Gur, and Ariel Sharon.
See also irgun zvaʾi leʾumi (izl); lohamei herut yisrael; white papers on palestine; yishuv.
Ben-Eliezer, Uri. The Making of Israeli Militarism. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1998.
Jewish Agency for Israel. "Israel and Zionism: The Haganah." Available from <http://www.jafi.org.il/education/>.
Van Creveld, Martin. The Sword and the Olive: A Critical History of the Israeli Defense Force. New York: Public Affairs, 1998.
pierre m. atlas
("defense", in Hebrew) Name of the military wing of the Jewish leadership in Mandatory Palestine. This paramilitary organization was created in 1920 for the purpose of protecting Jewish colonies against the actions of Arabs opposed to their expansion. So as to avoid possible excesses, the movement established a rule of "self-restraint" (havlagah), according to which the Haganah would restrict itself to defensive actions. Within the Haganah, the "Rekhesh" section was in charge of procuring the necessary weaponry. Between 1936 and 1941, benefiting from the experience of certain British officers, the Haganah produced some particularly well-trained reconnaissance units. The latter served as a nucleus for the constitution of the Jewish Brigade during World War II. In 1948, the Haganah was dissolved, with many of its members joining the ranks of the new Israeli army, the Israel Defense Force (Tsahal).
SEE ALSO Israel Defense Force