Huberman Underground national military organization

  • Issue: December 1991
  • Designer: A. Berg
  • Sheet size: 25.7 x 40 mm
  • Plate no.: 143
  • Sheet of 15 stamps Tabs: 5
  • Printers: Government Printers
  • Method of printing: Photogravure

In the spring of 1931 a group of members of the "Hagana" left the military organization to set up a new one called "Organization B" or 'National Hagana', which later became known as the "National Military Organization" (NMO or "Etzel" in Hebrew). The group left the Hagana because of their belief that mistakes had been made in the defence strategy during the Arab attacks on Jewish settlements in 1929.

At the beginning of its existence (1931-1937) Etzel dealt mainly with mobilization and training of members, acquiring arms and defending from possible attacks by Arab bands. In April 1937 some of the members returned to the fold of the "Hagana" while the rest remained in the service of the independent organization, Etzel. The Betar leader, Ze'ev Jabotinsky was made Etzel's Commander-in-chief. The policy adopted by Etzel during the Arab uprising of 1936-1939 was one of acts of reprisal and deterrence against Arab rioters.

After the "White Paper" was issued (May 1939) decrees were enacted mainly to reduce aliyah and limit the selling of land to the Jews, Etzel initiated attacks on British administration institutions. The attacks ceased with the onset of World War II as Etzel regarded Germany as a common enemy to both the Jewish people and Britain. However, there were those who opposed the cessation of the struggle and, in the summer of 1940, they left Etzel and set up the underground organization "Fighters for the Freedom of Israel - 'Lehi'.

Etzel joined actively in the struggle against the Nazis and even aided the British in its military operations in Iraq; David Raziel, the commander of Etzel, the head of team whose job was to put down a pro-Nazi revolt, was killed in May 1941 during one of these operations.

Towards the end of 1943, Menahem Begin became commander of Etzel. In 1944, Britain continued its "White Paper" policy and locked the gates of aliya, even after the full dimensions of the Holocaust which had befallen the Jewish people had become known. In February 1944, Etzel declared a rebellion against the British administration. This decision came after it appeared that the Allies were to win the war.

During the period of the rebellion, Etzel attacked British mandatory administration institutions, offices of the secret police, police stations and headquarters. As far as possible, Etzel refrained from hurting people - even putting its own members in danger because of restrictions it had set for itself.

When World War II ended in 1945, Etzel began attacking British military bases and headquarters. The breaking-into the Acre prison, the bombing of the British administrative and military headquarters in the King David Hotel in Jerusalem and other actions drew strong reactions world-wide.

Etzel also expanded its sphere of fighting to Europe, where it attacked British institutions and installations such as the British Embassy in Rome and military trains in Germany.

After the UN resolution of partition (November 29th, 1947), Etzel emerged from the underground and joined the Yishuv's battle against the Arabs. Among its best known actions are the conquest of Jaffa and the liberation of villages and areas in Jerusalem, and elsewhere.

A short time after the establishment of the State of Israel and the founding of the Israel Defence Forces (IDF), Etzel disarmed and its members joined the IDF, either as individuals or as organized units.

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Underground national military organization