Huberman Lehi

  • Issue: December 1991
  • Designer: G. Almaliah
  • Sheet size: 25.7 x 40 mm
  • Plate no.: 144
  • Sheet of 15 stamps Tabs: 5
  • Printers: E. Lewin-Epstein Ltd.
  • Method of printing: Offset

Lochamei Herut Yisrael (the Fighters for the Freedom of Israel), known by its Hebrew abbreviation, LEHI, was founded in the summer of 1940 when members of the Irgun underground (Etzel), led by Avraham Stern, split off to form the new body. Stern, whose nom de guerre was "Yair", disagreed with the Irgun commander's stand of collaboration with the British regime during World War II. Yair and other members of the Irgun High Command viewed this as a unilateral cease-fire in the struggle against the British, who were continuing to restrict Jewish immigration and to oppose basic Zionist aspirations. The new underground organization severed all party-political ties and dependence, and charted an independent policy and course of action.

Lehi strove to achieve Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel and to obtain its liberation by armed revolt against the British.

It accomplished its goals by daring military operations. Many of its members were killed during the war against the Mandatory regime; others were jailed and exiled to camps in Africa. Those who were brought to trial exploited the courtroom to propagate their ideals and, instead of being the accused, they became the accusers. Dozens were sentenced to death but the sentences were commuted. Eliyahu Hakim and Eliyahu Bet-Tzuri were hanged on the gallows in Cairo and Moshe Barazani blew himself up in his death-row cell together with Meir Feinstein of the Irgun.

Yair, Lehi's founder, was born in Poland in 1907 and immigrated to Palestine at the age of 18. He was a commander in the National Defence in the post-1929 period and later became an outstanding leader in the Irgun. He believed that Great Britain was the enemy of the Jewish people during its worst hour.

Evidence of this animosity was the British insistence on carrying out the 1939 "White Paper" policy, effectively closing the gates of the country in the face of Jewish refugees, and almost totally restricting Jewish land purchase. Yair regarded Britain as a "foreign occupier" imposing an undesired rule on an oppressed people.

In February 12th, 1942 British C.l.D. detectives located Yair's hideout in Tel-Aviv and shot him dead, claiming he was attempting to escape, despite the fact that he was handcuffed. The house where he was murdered, on Mizrachi B street, is now the Lehi Museum and the street is called Avraham Stern street. With his death, Stern's group suffered a serious setback. Half a year later, in September 1942, Yitzhak Shamir (Yizernitzski) escaped from detention and reconstituted the organization. The three-man council was now made up of Israel Eldad (Scheib), Natan Yellin-Mor (Friedman) and Shamir.

In 1944, the Irgun, under the command of Menachem Begin, declared a revolt against the British and thus joined the fight against the mandatory regime.

In 1945, the Lehi changed its tactics. In place of attacks by small units and assassinations of Mandatory officials, assaults by larger groups were increasingly employed.

At the end of World War II, when even the official Zionist and Yishuv leadership realised that the British had reneged on its Mandate commitments to the Jews and had ignored the distress of the European Jewish survivors of the Holocaust, the Hagana was directed to join the Lehi and the Irgun, to fight the British as the United Resistance Movement. Raids on British targets were co-ordinated and continued for nine months. In the summer of 1946, the paths separated once again and the Hagana limited itself to operations connected with "illegal" immigration and settlement, whereas the Irgun and Lehi pursued their campaign against the British with full intensify.

With the establishment of the State of Israel, Lehi officially joined the Israel Defence Forces and its members were mobilized into the 82nd and 89th battalions of the Eighth Brigade.

In Jerusalem, which, according to the UN Partition Plan, was not to be included in the territory of the State of Israel, the Lehi continued, as did other armed groups, to fight independently. On September 17th, 1948, Lehi was disbanded in Jerusalem and its members enlisted as individuals into the IDF and participated in the War of Independence.

Throughout the years, Lehi published a number of bulletins including: BaMachteret (In the Underground), the monthly HeChazit (The Front), the weekly HaMaas (The Deed) and, in 1948, a daily newspaper HaMivrak (The Telegram). In addition, a secret radio transmitter broadcasted Lehi announcements and communiques.

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Lehi - the fighters for the freedom of Israel