The historical roots of the Israeli Defense Forces and a mainstream political party in Israel with an officially labeled terrorist organization (Irgun) help us understand why Israel is habituated to unleash various acts of state terror on the Palestinians.
By Arshad Shaikh
November 2, 2023:
A cursory reading of the history of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party, one of Israel’s prominent political parties reveals that it has deep-seated connections with the Irgun, a Zionist terrorist organization that operated in Mandatory Palestine.
The Irgun Tzvai Leumi (The National Military Organization in the Land of Israel) or Irgun was founded in 1931 as an offshoot of the Haganah, a larger Jewish paramilitary organization. It was rooted in Revisionist Zionism, a movement founded by Ze’ev Jabotinsky. The Irgun’s policies were strongly influenced by Jabotinsky’s teachings, asserting that every Jew had the right to enter Palestine and that only Jewish armed struggle would secure the establishment of a Jewish state. This philosophy underpinned the Irgun’s approach, which included carrying out acts of terror against the Arabs and the British.
Two notorious terrorist operations carried out by the Irgun remain etched in history. The first was the bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem on July 22, 1946, and the second was the Deir Yassin massacre on April 9, 1948. The latter, conducted jointly with the Lehi group, resulted in the deaths of at least 107 Palestinian Arab villagers, including women and children.
These actions, among others, led the Irgun to be labeled as a terrorist organization by several governments and international bodies, including the United Nations, the British government, and the United States government, as well as major media outlets like The New York Times.
The Irgun’s primary targets were the British, whom they regarded as illegal occupiers, and Arabs whom they wanted to dislodge from their land. The organization’s activities were widely criticized and condemned, and their methods were considered acts of terrorism.
As the 1948 Arab-Israeli war broke out, many former Irgun members were integrated into the Israel Defense Forces, marking a transition from conducting terrorist activities to military service. The Irgun’s political legacy lives on through the Herut (or “Freedom”) party, a right-wing political entity that eventually transformed into the Likud Party. The Likud Party, formed in 1973, has played a prominent role in Israeli politics since 1977. It has led or been part of most Israeli governments, solidifying its influence and connection to the controversial roots of the Irgun.
The historical roots of the Israeli Defense Forces and a mainstream political party in Israel with an officially labeled terrorist organization (Irgun) help us understand why Israel is habituated to unleash various acts of state terror on the Palestinians. It also sheds light on the reasons behind the impunity with which Israel commits war crimes. These acts of terror conducted in Gaza is not just a part of the strategy of the IDF, it is in their DNA.