The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







Irgun (ארגון), shorthand for Irgun Tsvai-Leumi (ארגון צבאי לאומי, also spelled Irgun Zvai-Leumi), Hebrew for "Military-National Organization", was a Zionist rebel group that existed in the early 20th century.

The Irgun was considered to be a terrorist organization by the British, amongs others, but many Jews regarded its members as freedom fighters. Irgun is known by its Hebrew acronym Etzel. Its best known activity was the bombing of King David Hotel in Jerusalem in 1946, which killed close to a hundred people.

It branched off Haganah in Jerusalem under Avraham Tehomi in 1931. The reasons for their withdrawal was discontent with Haganah's policy of restraint when faced with Arab and British pressure. After a short independent period, Irgun re-joined the Haganah, but never integrated with it and quit once more in 1937 because of Arab riots. Irgun adopted the revisionist views of Zeev Jabotinsky.

Irgun was secretly supported from 1936 by the Polish government, who hoped that establishing a Jewish state would help emigration of Jews from Poland, who by that time constituted one of the poorer segments of Polish society. Irgun received guns from Poles as well as military training. In 1943 Menachem Begin, who later became Prime Minister of Israel, became its leader. Later, the Irgun was merged into the Israeli Defence Force.

One well-known ex-member of the Irgun is Uri Avneri, who became famous for his fighting as a part of the Samson Foxes jeep unit during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, and then for his turn into radical pacifism as the leader of the Gush Shalom movement.

Irgun actions

  • 1937-1939 - A large number of attacks against Arabs, sometimes en masse, were carried out, especially under the command of Moshe Rosenberg and David Raziel. For example, 24 Arabs were killed and 39 injured by a marketplace bomb in Haifa, February 27, 1939, and further casualties were caused by bombs in Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv on the same day. (Sources: Palestine (now Jerusalem) Post 2/28/39; Y. Ben-Ami, Years of Wrath, Days of Glory; Memiors of the Irgun (1982))
  • July 22, 1946 - Irgun bombs King David Hotel in Jerusalem, headquarters of the British civil and military administration, killing 91 people (17 Jewish). The Irgun gave a warning to evacuate the building, which was ignored by the British (Source: [1] )
  • October 31, 1946 - Irgun bombs British Embassy in Rome, Italy. (Source: [2] ).
  • May 4, 1947 - the Irgun breaks into the Akko prison and releases 27 Jewish activists (Source: [[3] ] , [[4] ])
  • September 29, 1947 - Irgun bombs police station in Haifa, Palestine, killing four British and four Arab policemen, and two Arab civilians. (Source: [5] ).
  • December 29, 1947 - Irgun throws grenades into cafe in Jerusalem, Palestine, killing 11 Arabs and 2 British policemen. (Source: [6] ).
  • 9 April, 1948 - The Irgun together with the Stern gang attacked the Palestinian village of Deir Yassin during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, killing at least 107 civilians. See Deir Yassin massacre.

See also

External links

  • [7] Official History of the Irgun
  • [8] History of the Irgun by an American Jewish Organization
  • [9] Encyclopedia Britannica Entry on Irgun

Last updated: 02-07-2005 01:22:41
Last updated: 05-06-2005 01:27:49