Historical Dictionary of the British Empire

By James S. Olson; Robert S. Shadle | Go to book overview
Save to active project


HAGANAH. Formed in 1920, the Haganah (Hebrew for "defense") was an underground Zionist* military organization, dedicated to protecting Jewish settlements in Palestine.* Originally, the Haganah limited itself strictly to defensive measures, but, by 1936, the Haganah had expanded its operations to include occasional preemptive strikes. In 1938, the British allowed the Haganah to arm itself legally, so that the Palestinian Jews could help crush the Arab rebellion. The government organized special constabulary units, under the command of the unorthodox Captain (later General) Orde Wingate*; these "Special Night Squads" were composed largely of members of the Haganah. When World War "began, the Haganah cooperated fully with Britain, and it encouraged Palestinian Jews to join the British army. Altogether, some 43,000 Palestinian Jews saw service in British units during the war, and these veterans would later prove highly useful to the Haganah during Israel's 1947-1948 war for independence.

After the war, to protest British restrictions on Jewish immigration to Palestine, the Haganah conducted a terrorist campaign against Britain; unlike the rival Jewish terrorist groups, the Irgun* and the Stern Gang,* the Haganah generally hit strictly military targets and attempted to minimize casualties. When the United Nations* voted to partition Palestine in 1947, the Haganah assumed responsibility for protecting Israel. Due to the small number of Jews in Palestine compared to Arabs, the Haganah had, from its beginnings, recruited women as well as men; even so, the Haganah could field only some 60,000 soldiers during the war for independence. Ultimately, this small but well-trained force succeeded against the larger Arab forces. In May 1948, the Israeli government dissolved the Haganah and replaced it with the Israeli Defense Forces.

REFERENCES: Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre, O Jerusalem, 1972; KoestlerArthur


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Historical Dictionary of the British Empire


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 620

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?