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Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

militant Zionist organization, 1946, from Modern Hebrew, literally "organization," in full Irgun Zvai Leumi "national military organization."


The Irgun (; full title: , lit. "The National Military Organization in the Land of Israel"), was a Zionist paramilitary organization that operated in Mandate Palestine between 1931 and 1948. It was an offshoot of the older and larger Jewish paramilitary organization Haganah (Hebrew: "Defense", הגנה). When the group broke from the Haganah it became known as the Haganah Bet (Hebrew: literally "Defense 'B' " or "Second Defense", ), or alternatively as haHaganah haLeumit or Hama'amad . Irgun members were absorbed into the Israel Defense Forces at the start of the 1948 Arab–Israeli war. The Irgun is also referred to as Etzel , an acronym of the Hebrew initials, or by the abbreviation IZL.

The Irgun policy was based on what was then called Revisionist Zionism founded by Ze'ev Jabotinsky. According to Howard Sachar, "The policy of the new organization was based squarely on Jabotinsky's teachings: every Jew had the right to enter Palestine; only active retaliation would deter the Arabs; only Jewish armed force would ensure the Jewish state".

Two of the operations for which the Irgun is best known are the bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem on 22 July 1946 and the Deir Yassin massacre, carried out together with Lehi on 9 April 1948.

The Irgun has been viewed as a terrorist organization or organization which carried out terrorist acts. Specifically the organization "committed acts of terrorism and assassination against the British, whom it regarded as illegal occupiers, and it was also violently anti-Arab" according to the Encyclopædia Britannica. In particular the Irgun was described as a terrorist organization by the United Nations, British, and United States governments, and in media such as The New York Times newspaper, and by the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry., the 1946 Zionist Congress and the Jewish Agency. Irgun's tactics appealed to a certain segment of the Jewish community that believed that any action taken in the cause of the creation of a Jewish state was justified, including terrorism.

The Irgun was a political predecessor to Israel's right-wing Herut (or "Freedom") party, which led to today's Likud party. Likud has led or been part of most Israeli governments since 1977.

Usage examples of "irgun".

How typical of the Zionist killers from the Irgun Zvai Leumi and the Haganah!

In our files we haven’t had Jews threatening to blow people to pieces to free their friends since the Irgun and the Stern Gang.

In our files we haven't had Jews threatening to blow people to pieces to free their friends since the Irgun and the Stern Gang.

He had fought with the Irgun in Israel against the British and the Arabs, a tall fierce man who inspired a delicious fear in Tara.