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crackdown against zionist dissident organizations by mainstream zionist underground in british mandatory palestine.

The Saison, or "hunting season," was an operation authorized by David Ben-Gurion from November 1944 to March 1945 against dissident Jewish underground groups. In February 1944 the Irgun Zvaʾi Leʾumi, led by Menachem Begin, initiated an armed revolt against the British authorities in Palestine in an attempt to secure Jewish independence. Their violent activities ran counter to the official policy of the Yishuv (the Jewish community in Palestine) at the time and would not be tolerated. On 31 October, Begin was issued an ultimatum by Haganah leaders to cease and desist, which he rejected. On 6 November, Walter Edward Guinness, Lord Moyne, the senior British official in the Middle East, was assassinated in Cairo by LEHI, an Irgun splinter group. This provided an opportunity to conduct a sweeping crackdown on both extremist groups. Special units of Palmah and Haganah volunteers arrested and handed over approximately 1,000 suspected Irgun and LEHI members to the British, some of whom were tortured beforehand. Many religious Zionists and General Zionists opposed the operation, and the bitter rivalry between Labor Zionism and Revisionist Zionism gave the Saison political and ideological overtones. Begin ordered his forces not to retaliate, fearing a Jewish civil war. Irgun activities against the British ceased until after the end of World War II.

see also begin, menachem; ben-gurion, david; guinness, walter edward; haganah; irgun zvaʾi leʾumi (izl); lohamei herut yisrael.


Bell, J. Bowyer. Terror out of Zion: The Fight for Israeli Independence. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, 1996.

Sprinzak, Ehud. Brother against Brother: Violence and Extremism in Israeli Politics from Altalena to the Rabin Assassination. New York: Free Press, 1999.

pierre m. atlas