Lehi (group)

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Lehi (Hebrew pronunciation: [ˈleχi] (Lohamei Herut Israel, "Fighters for the Freedom of Israel", לח"י - לוחמי חרות ישראל), commonly referred to as the Stern Group or Stern Gang,[1] was a militant Zionist group founded by Avraham ("Yair") Stern in the British Mandate of Palestine.[2] Its avowed aim was forcibly evicting the British authorities from Palestine, allowing unrestricted immigration of Jews and the formation of a Jewish state.

Initially called the National Military Organization in Israel,[3] it was the smallest and most radical of Mandatory Palestine's three Zionist paramilitary groups (Haganah, Irgun, and Lehi), and never had more than a few hundred members. Lehi split from the Irgun in 1940 and by 1948 was identified with both religious Zionism (although most members were not Orthodox Jews) and left-wing nationalism (despite most members wanting to remain politically unaligned).[4][5]

Lehi assassinated Lord Moyne, British Minister Resident in the Middle East, and made many other attacks on the British in Palestine. It was described as a terrorist organization by the British authorities.[6] Lehi assassinated United Nations mediator Folke Bernadotte and was banned by the Israeli government. [7] The United Nations Security Council called the assassins "a criminal group of terrorists,"[8] and Lehi was similarly condemned by Folke's replacement as mediator, Ralph Bunche.[9]

Lehi and Irgun were jointly responsible for the controversial attack on Deir Yassin, often described as a massacre.

However, Israel granted a general amnesty to Lehi members on 14 February 1949. In 1980, Israel even instituted a military decoration, the Lehi ribbon.[10] Former Lehi leader Yitzhak Shamir became Prime Minister of Israel in 1983.


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