Thursday, November 22, 2012

Background to the Saison Period

From this article

The Haganah and SOE: Allies and EnemiesIrregular Warfare & Politics in Mandatory Palestine
Jacob A Stoil

Moshe Dayan, an officer during the Saison, explained the Haganah in 1944-45 was continuing to cooperate with the British in the fight against Nazi Germany. The Haganah was therefore anxious to stop the independent actions of the dissident paramilitary organizations such as the Irgun Zvai Le’ummi and the Lehi (Stern Group).’91 The Palestine Government employed the Haganah in this role as the Security Service found it extremely difficult to obtain information on the Irgun Zvai Le’ummi (IZL) and LEHI and the Palestine Police ‘singly failed to penetrate these two organizations.’92 The Haganah provided some of its best forces to the efforts of the Saison, including those who formerly made up some of the special units trained by the SOE.93 Some veterans of the special units began working in the Saison soon after the dissolution of their units.94 Some began as bodyguards for senior Haganah figures while others put their skills in infiltration, covert operations, and attacking high value targets directly to use. The primary skills employed by SOE- trained personnel during the Saison were those required for following and ambushing a high value target and then disappearing again into the general population.95 In these activities, the SOE-trained personnel were most certainly successful. Polish intelligence verified that much of the lull in militant activities during the Saison was due to the Haganah ‘seizing (it is said with the tacit approval of British authorities) the more active members of the terrorist group, and banishing them for a convenient period of time from the arena of political life.’96 It was not just the British and Poles who believed that the Haganah units were effective. According to former members of the IZL, the Haganah was effective and a greater threat than the British, primarily because of its ability to act covertly, swiftly and decisively. These were the very skills that SOE training had emphasized.97


91 Dayan, Moshe (1976) p. 57

92 Extract from Summary Middle East No. 2 by S.I.M.E. Cairo – 5.12.1941 In KV5/29, Extract from Mr. A.J. Kellar’s Report on his visit to the Mid-East in KV5/29
93 Interview with Avigdor Cohen

94 Interview with Hayim Miller

95 Interview with Hayim Miller 2, Interview with Avigdor Cohen

96 Report from Polish Security, Middle East, 17.4.45 In KV5/29

97 Interview with Eli Shitrit, Interview with Yehuda Lapidot  

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