Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Today in IDF History

76 years ago, today: The establishment of the "Eztel"

Following months of Arab riots in Jerusalem that went unanswered by the "Hagana" forces, a local division in Jerusalem led by Avraham Tahomi (, a senior officer in the Haganah, who was appointed district commander of Jerusalem after the 1929 massacres, sent the management of the national committee a letter in which they announced their intention to leave the organization.

The new organization was named the "Irgun Tzvai Le'umi" (National Military Organization), but for reasons of secrecy, its members used the name infrequently.

The more commonly-used name was "Irgun B" or Haganah Le'umit (National Defence). It was in dire financial straits and lacked sufficient funds to cover its expenses. In addition, the Histadrut institutions boycotted the organization's members, who were employed in construction or road building, and prevented them from obtaining work (the employment office was at that time part of the Histadrut).

About a month after the split, the Haganah leaders decided to bow to the authority of the Jewish Agency. A joint General Headquarters was established for the first time, half of its members drawn from the Histadrut and the other half from non socialist parties. Despite this seeming parity, the great majority of the senior commanders of the Haganah were members of the Histadrut and affiliated to the labor parties. The co-opting of non socialists to the Haganah leadership did not bring Tehomi back into the Haganah ranks and the split became an established fact.

The new organization was concentrated in Jerusalem, and included a group of Hebrew University students known as the "Sohba" (fraternity). Some of the members graduated from the organization's first training courses, and played key roles in the development of the Irgun. The outstanding personalities in the group were David Raziel, Avraham Stern, Hillel Kook and Hayim Shalom Halevi.

Over the years, the ranks of the Irgun were swelled by new young recruits, particularly from the Betar youth movement, but also from Maccabi, a non-party sports organization. New branches were set up all over the country (Tel Aviv, Haifa and Safed), and the Irgun became a nationwide movement.

Two of the Irgun's leaders rose to prominence in the newly established Jewish state as both Menachem Begin and Yitzchak Shamir were elected to the office of Prime Minister as Israel gained strength and its democracy flourished.

To learn more about the Etzel please visit their official website at


34 years ago, today: Operation Spring of Youth

General Staff Reconnaissance Unit (Sayeret Matkal), the Paratroops, and the Naval Commando Unit raided terrorist houses in Lebanon and kill about fifty PLO senior operatives in their beds, among them Abu Yossef, Yasser Arafat's deputy. Among the commanders of the raiding forces: Ehud Barak and Amnon Lipkin, among the soldiers: Yonatan & Benjamin Netanyahu.

This raid was part of the larger Operation Wrath of God, which aimed at reaching the leaders responsible for the 1972 Munich Olympics Massacre, and had a shocking effect on the PLO.

Mere hours before following the attack on the house of Israeli ambassador in Cyprus, and the attempt to abduct an Israeli "Arkia" plane parked in the airport in Nicosia that same day, a select force from "Sayeret Matkal", Sea Commando Unit, and paratroops, was launched to a pre-planned operation, codenamed "Spring of Youth".

The bold commando operation at the heart of Beirut, the stronghold of terrorist organizations, was launched in order to destroythe three Fatah Organization heads- Muhammad Youssef Al-Najjar ("Abu Youssef"), Arafat's deputy; Kamal Adwan, responsible for the execution of terror attacks in Israel; and Kamal Nasser, a PLO spokesperson and a member of the PLO Executive Committee.

The operation was commanded by the Chief Paratroops Officers, Brigadier General Emanuel Shaked. Among the commanders of the forces was Lieutenant Colonel Amnon Lipkin, the commander of the parachuting Nahal Battalion, and Lieutenant Colonel Ehud Barak, Sayeret Matkal Commander who landed with the first force on the shore of Beirut and arrived at the city dressed as a woman.

The force embarked on the mission during the afternoon hours in nine rocket ships from the port of Haifa and anchored in the evening in the shore of Beirut. "Mosad" agents awaited the warriors in fancy American vehicles that were rented in advance. The forces divided up into different designations: a seven floor building which served as barracks and inhabited the PFLP headquarters; two senior Fatah operatives' residential houses protected by dozens of armed terrorists; Fatah headquarters, which was responsible for terror attacks in the Gaza Strip; two workshops for the assembly of mine explosives. One of the forces attacked the central garage serving the terrorists in Tzidon.

The operation lasted two and a half hours. During the operation, the forces destroyed three of the organization's officials in their apartments. The forces also took many documents from the terrorists' apartments. In the operation, two warriors from the force commanded by Amnon Lipkin were killed. Lipkin was awarded a Chief of Staff citation for his bravery.

To learn more about this operation please see: