These chapters in the history of the Irgun Zvai Le'umi (the National Military Organization), known in Hebrew by its acronym Etzel, and in English as the Irgun or IZL, were written specifically for this Internet website. They are arranged chronologically in order to provide a complete picture of the history of the Irgun, from its establishment in 1931 to its disbanding after the State of Israel came into being.
In its initial years, the Irgun was primarily concerned with repelling Arab riots in the country. Whilst the Haganah adhered to the policy of self-restrain ('Havlaga') in the face of Arab attack, the Irgun activity resisted Arab aggression.
With the publication of the 1939 White Paper restricting Jewish immigration into Palestine, the Irgun had no choice but to direct their efforts against the British too. A truce was briefly declared after the outbreak of the Second World War. When the full extent of the Holocaust became known, and it was clear that Britain was continuing to implement the White Paper, the Irgun realized that there was no alternative but to renew the armed struggle against the British in Palestine.
On February 1, 1944, the Irgun proclaimed a revolt against British rule over Palestine and demanded that the British leave the country forthwith and a Jewish state be established. The gradual intensification of military action against the Mandatory government undermined the basis of British rule. These operations, carried out with the Lehi (Fighters for the Freedom of Israel) and occasionally with the Haganah as well, ultimately forced the British government to bring the question of the future of Palestine before the United Nations.
On November 29, 1947, the UN Assembly decided to partition Palestine into two states: a Jewish state, the State of Israel, and a Palestinian-Arab state.
Now, that the British Archives have been opened, it is obvious that the armed fight against the British, in which the Irgun took a prominent part, had a decisive role in their withdrawal from the country.
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