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In the Middle of 1948 War: Soviet-backed Israeli ‘Mapam’ warriors blow up an Israeli terror ship full of weapons destined for Haganah, Irgun terrorists




Having blown up the Irgun terror ship ‘Altalena’, the Mapam – the Israeli communist-led ‘Socialist Zionist’ popular-front Party that operated as a Soviet espionage front – then forced Ben-Gurion (himself an Irgun supporter) against his will to endorse the ‘Holy Cannon’ that destroyed the Irgun terrorists. The operation was carried out during the 1948 by the Mapam’s commando army, ‘Palmach’, led by Mapam-affiliated commanders Yigal Allon, Yisrael Galili, and Yitzhak Rabin. Irgun godfather Menachem Begin: had the Altalena arms been delivered, Palestine would have entirely ceased to exist.


The History of the USSR & the Peoples’ Democracies

Chapter 16, Section 6 (C16S6) 


Saed T.


A group of people on a beachDescription automatically generated

The Altalena Ship blown up by the Mapam-Palmach off the coasts of Israel

Image source: ‘Forward’ magazine.


The most fascinating military operation by the Mapamite intelligence agents at the high ranks of the Israeli regime apparatus was in the Altalena bombing.

The Mapam-affiliated generals of whom the Palmach was composed were regarded as dangerous subversives by the Ben-Gurion clique. Forget not that the agenda of the Ben-Gurion group was to transition Israel from a Kautskyite 'social democracy' of the settler-colonial type to a Pinochet-style fascist dictatorship backed by the MI6 and the CIA, a regime politically authoritarian and theocratic, and economically neoliberal, not just exterminating the local Arabs but overtly and blatantly terrorizing the Israelis themselves. Such a regime was the long-term goal. To this end, the Kautskyite Ben-Gurion gang aimed to covertly sponsor the Irgun fascists. The sponsoring of the Irgun fascists also had a short-term benefit for the Ben-Gurion faction for it would have created a powerful bloc rivaling the Palmach freedom-fighters. Totally unlike the Palmach freedom-fighters, the Irgun terrorists were very serious about fighting against the Arab people and Arab anti-fascist forces. Thus, funding the Irgun terrorists would have tremendously assisted the anti-Arab war of terror. In an intelligence report to the Soviet secret service, the Moshe Sneh, Soviet spy and former high-ranking Haganah commander, confirmed that the Irgun Zvi Leumi (IZL – pronounced in Hebrew as ‘Etzel’) was secretly backed by Prime Minister Ben-Gurion:

the extreme nationalists, revisionists and the IZL [are] secretly supported by Prime Minister Ben-Gurion, who … are trying to reach an agreement with the US to obtain the annexation of part of the Arab territories of Palestine in order to hand them over later as concessions to American [finance] capital. Ben-Gurion's view is expressed in the press by the journalist Liebenstein [Livneh] in the newspaper Davar. 'What Liebenstein writes, Ben-Gurion thinks, or the other way round' said Sneh; [T]he United Workers' Party and the Communist Party of Israel are against any sort of concessions to, or compromises with, the US and Britain, but in favour of 'a just compromise' with the Arabs, and of the closest possible relations with the USSR and the People's Democracies. (DIARY: AVP RF. F.089, OP.1, P.1. D3, LL.5-6, Secret, Meeting: P.I. Ershov – M. Sneh, Tel Aviv, October 9, 1948. In: “Documents on Israeli-Soviet Relations, 1941-1953, Parts 1-2”, Israeli Foreign Ministry, Russian Foreign  Ministry, Israel State Archives, Russian Federal Archives, p. 381) (IMG)

Uri Milstein was an IDF commander who was later designated by former IDF Chief of Staff Rafael Eitan of the Ariel Sharon faction to write a history of the 1948 War. Milstein was a Jabotinskyite right-wing Zionist enemy of the Mapam, and a viciously violent foe of Yitzhak Rabin. Milstein wrote that the Mapai-controlled Haganah and the Irgun/Etzel were to form an alliance, but that the Mapam, its military force the Palmach, and Mapam’s top representative in the Haganah, Yisrael Galili, aimed to sabotage such an agreement between the Irgun and the Haganah. The Ben-Gurion faction Kautskyites also aimed to form a coalition cabinet with Menachem Begin and his Herutniks/Likudniks, but this agreement was indeed sabotaged by the Mapam:

According to the agreement, the Irgun was supposed to coordinate its activities with the Haganah, until the declaration of independence, and to join the IDF after the establishment of the state, as a cohesive military framework, in a position that the Palmach had in the Haganah and at the beginning of the IDF. Most of the senior commanders in the Palmach, including Yitzhak Rabin, were under the influence of the Marxist Mapam. Through the fame of the commanders, Mapam leaders sought to shape the IDF in their spirit, and to become the dominant political factor in Israel. The plot of Deir Yassin was also intended to thwart, after the declaration of independence, the establishment of a national unity government, one of whose members was supposed to be Begin. Most of all, Galili and Mapam, his party, feared that a coalition between Ben-Gurion and Begin would push them to the margins of the political system, completely nullify their influence on the future state, and harm their economic and social interests. (…). Galili and his comrades' first goal was not achieved: the Zionist General Council approved the agreement between Etzel [i.e. IZL] and Haganah – by a majority of 39 to 32 – at five in the morning on April 13, 1948. The agreement was approved after bitter struggles, heated debates and attempts by Mapam representatives to postpone the vote in order to cancel it, since after a few hours most of the delegates from abroad were supposed to take off back to their countries. Their other goal was fully achieved - Begin and his friends remained out of the political system until after the War of Independence until the first elections in 1949. (Through Rabin and His Legacy, Uri Milstein, Chapter 22) (IMG)

Menachem Begin himself confirmed years later that David Ben-Gurion harbored a positive opinion of the Irgun and that Ben-Gurion, rather than ban those terrorists as the agents of the former Fascist Italy, harbored them and assisted them in operating in the ranks of the armed forces of Israel:

When independence was declared on the 14th May, 1948, there was no immediate formation of a unified army. Haganah continued to exist; and the Irgun, whose soldiers were stationed on various fronts and in some sectors were fighting together with Haganah men, also continued to exist. The well-known journalist, Dr. Azriel Karlibach, at that time published an open letter to me, brimming with enthusiasm and demanding that … we should work for establishment of a unified Israel Army. I replied on our radio that several days earlier we had publicly called for the establishment of a unified Army to replace the military organisations. But it depended on the Government, not on us.

When the creation of the Army was announced we continued as a recognised military organisation until the integration of our forces into the Army was completed. In the operational orders of the Front Line and Brigade Commanders, Irgun units appeared as an inseparable part of the Army forces. In liberated Jaffa which, at our request, had been divided into two sectors, one sector was garrisoned by the Irgun. The Prime Minister, Mr. David Ben Gurion, one day visited Jaffa and also inspected Irgun units, who presented arms. I was told that Mr. Ben Gurion, moved at the incident, said to the escort: "I didn't know they had such boys."

Afterwards the Prime Minister sent the following letter to Sergeant Haim, the officer in command of our occupying force in Jaffa:

     State of Israel

     Provisional Government

     22 May, 1948

     To the Commander of the Irgun soldiers in Jaffa. Until further instructions you and your men are at the sole orders of the Military Governor of Jaffa, I Chizik.

     (signed) David Ben Gurion

     Head of the Provisional Government and Minister of Security.

We pointed out to Mr. Ben Gurion's aide-de-camp that it was not customary for a Prime Minister to communicate directly with a local officer. We were gratified at the official recognition of "the Irgun Zvai Leumi soldiers in Jaffa," but out of concern for the tender growth of our State we wished to uphold the status of the Prime Minister as such.

With his aide and his colleagues we continued to discuss the creation of a unified army. The details of the discussion are related elsewhere. Here it is sufficient to mention that we agreed that the Irgun should bring into the Army complete battalions with their officers. But as the organisation of battalions required time, it was agreed between us that we would set up a temporary Staff of the Irgun Zvai Leumi, approved by the Prime Minister and Minister of Security. By the time the "Altalena" arrived we had organized and integrated several battalions into the Army. Other regiments were still in process of organisation, their men being still dispersed in smaller units on various fronts. Our Staff was thus an official and recognised body, when it was called to discuss with the representatives of the Ministry of Security the unloading of the "Altalena" arms.

(The Revolt, Menachem Begin, 1978, pp. 217-219) (IMG)

With the full support of the Ben-Gurion faction, the Irgun terrorists were to be funded militarily by the US-led bloc. The Irgun was to be handed a ship filled with all the arms which Israel needed for a decisive victory early on in the War. Menachem Begin, the commander of the Irgun terrorists, recalled that the amounts of arms to be provided were so numerous that in fact Israel would have won control of pretty much all of Palestine, not to mention inflicting a far more crushing defeat on all of the Arab armies. 900 Irgun soldiers were to guard it. General Begin wrote:

The "Altalena" with her nine hundred soldiers, five thousand rifles, four million rounds of ammunition, three hundred Bren guns, 150 spandaus, five caterpillar-track armoured vehicles, thousands of air-combat bombs, and the rest of her war equipment, was ready to sail not in the middle of May but only in the second week of June.  (The Revolt, Menachem Begin, 1978, p. 215) (IMG)

The tragic fact was that the "Altalena" was late in coming. Had this landing-craft arrived off the shores of Eretz Israel immediately on the liquidation of British rule, that is, in the middle of May, 1948, the whole condition of the nation would have been radically changed. We should then have placed at the disposal of the Government and the Army eight or ten battalions, fully equipped with arms and ammunition — instead of their customary equipment, unlimited readiness for self-sacrifice and short-ranged Sten-guns. At our first attack we should have captured Ramleh. This Arab town, besieged by the Irgun Zvai Leumi at the request of the Haganah in order to draw away enemy forces from the Latrun front, was on the point of falling when we had to withdraw. The morale of the inhabitants had been lowered, mainly by the shelling of our 3 inch mortars. Our boys stormed the approaches to the town and in the opening stages captured large parts of it. But lack of arms and ammunition proved fatal. They needed only a few hundred rifles and additional ammunition, but on the Ramleh front that quantity was not available either to us or to the Haganah Command. Three hundred rifles, or six per cent of the number loaded in the hold of the "Altalena"....

Had we been able to capture Ramleh at that time – and its conquest depended solely on these additional arms – the united Jewish forces would have broken the Arab front at Latrun and our strategic situation would have been changed fundamentally, its effects being felt as far as Jerusalem, as far as the Old City. With the fall of Ramleh, the fate of Lydda would have been sealed. Thus we should have smashed the enemy on the central front in the first stage of his invasion, instead of only after the first "truce." And the Jewish forces would have been free in the second stage for a full-scale attack on the 'Triangle.' In a word, we should today have held the Western bank of the Jordan – at least.

(The Revolt, Menachem Begin, 1978, pp. 214-215) (IMG)

The war materiel ship was sent during the truce, when the pace of the Arab armies in defeating Israel was forcibly slowed down. BBC radio, which was the media outlet of the MI6, informed the Irgun terror command with a coded message in its broadcast, telling the Irgun that the Altalena war ship was moving from the coasts of France to Israel. As often, Menachem Begin nonsensically implied that the British, who provided the codes, were opposed to arming the Irgun and that they sought to alert the UN observers. Nonetheless, it was clear that BBC was signalling to the Irgun that the war ship had started travel. Begin wrote:

The "Altalena" with her nine hundred soldiers, five thousand rifles, four million rounds of ammunition, three hundred Bren guns, 150 spandaus, five caterpillar-track armoured vehicles, thousands of air-combat bombs, and the rest of her war equipment, was ready to sail … only in the second week of June. We received first news of her departure from a French port on the London radio. (...). That very day the "truce" had come into force. Whatever our attitude to the truce might be, I explained to my comrades, we were not entitled to bear the responsibility for the possible consequences of a breach. All the Jewish forces were very tired; the enemy had superior armament. This was no longer an underground partisan-political fight. This was a fight in the open field and the consequences of defeat might be destruction for our people. (...). We did not, of course, place absolute credence in the B.B.C. report. Perhaps the boat had not yet sailed and the British Government only wanted to alert the UNO observers? (...). [Then], late at night, we communicated with the Israel Department of Security and gave them detailed information about the boat and its cargo of munitions. Now – we said to the representatives of the Security Ministry – it is for you to decide whether to permit the boat to come, or divert her. (The Revolt, Menachem Begin, 1978, pp. 215-216) (IMG)

Not a shred of reason exists to believe that the BBC ever seriously opposed the Irgun. Begin’s track record was full of MI6 connections. In the 1930s, Menachem Begin emerged as a member of the Betar movement, headquartered in MI6-backed Fascist Italy. Arrested by the Soviet NKVD on charges of being an MI6 agent, Begin was released only during Soviet negotiations with the British Empire against Nazi Germany with the onset of the Great Patriotic War. Then, Begin emerged as a corporal cadet officer of the MI6-run Anders Army, the Polish military force created by the MI6 agent Beria (see C13S4) and loyal to the London-based Polish government-in-exile. When the Anders Army was deployed into British-colonized Palestine, Menachem was allowed to ostensibly ‘leave’ the Anders Army to form the Irgun. In a speech to the Menachem Begin Heritage Centre, Polish President Andrzej Duda said:

I am particularly pleased to be able to meet you in this very centre, named after Menachem Begin, born in Brest on the Bug River as Mieczyslaw Biegun; then in the rank of officer cadet of the Polish Army he came to Israel in 1943 as one of Polish army soldiers under command of general Wladyslaw Anders. And it was here, on this soil at his own request he was dismissed from the service in order to be able to join the struggle for a Jewish state of Israel, whose member of Knesset he was for next ten terms in office, from 1949, the state that he ruled then for six years as prime minister. (Poles and Jews stood shoulder to shoulder in defence of the Republic of Poland, President.PL January 18, 2017) (IMG)

Anyways, The Ministry of Security, of which David Ben-Gurion was the Minister, conveyed the message to the Irgun terrorists that they shall proceed smoothly with the arrival of the war materiel for arming the Irgun fascists:

The decision of the Government – or the Security Ministry – was that the arms-ship of the Irgun must be brought in, and as quickly as possible. The decision was conveyed to me by Israel Galili the day after our late-night conversation at Irgun Headquarters. Anxiety gave way to joy. We were all delighted. The burden of responsibility had been taken off our shoulders. The Government, after all, knew the situation and its requirements. There was apparently no choice. Arms were lacking. In particular, there was a shortage of rifles – yes, ordinary rifles, the basic weapons in the Eretz Israel battles – and there was a shortage of British .303 ammunition, for lack of which a large part of the Haganah arms was out of action. All these urgent requirements would be brought in the "Altalena." (The Revolt, Menachem Begin, 1978, pp. 216-217) (IMG)

Mr. Galili writes: "I reported to the Prime Minister and Defence Minister, at every stage, both orally and in writing, fully, on the meetings with the heads of the Irgun Zvai Leumi, including the night meeting, the conversation on the morrow, and subsequent meetings." 

"The night meeting" is the discussion at Irgun headquarters, on June 14, 1948, in which we relayed to the representatives of the Provisional Government, Mr. Galili and Mr. Eshkol, all the details of the ship, its means, and its arms. That night, four days before the Altalena approached the shores of Eretz Israel, we announced that the arrival of the ship depended on the decision of the government. The next morning, at ten o'clock, Mr. Galili, the authorized representative of the Defence Minister, relayed to me the following announcement:

“We have decided that the Altalena is to come, and with all possible speed." Thus was it confirmed for the first time that the Irgun, which had been accused for an entire generation of bringing the Altalena, in order to seize control of the government, had prepared its rebellion with the knowledge, consent, and even the command, of the Provisional Government.... 

(The Revolt, Menachem Begin, 1978, pp. 22-24) (IMG)

Mr. Ben Gurion … was then Prime Minister and Defence Minister…. (The Revolt, Menachem Begin, 1978, pp. 23-24) (IMG)

As for the UNO prohibitions [of arms shipments during truce], we would manage somehow. After all, the Government knew. In the circumstances this was no question of morals. Nobody was helping our attacked people; the situation was one of life and death; and we thanked God that the Government understood the situation, weighed what had to be weighed and disregarded what in the circumstances it was forbidden to take into account. At once a code message went out to the "Altalena" where, as we later learnt, it aroused even greater joy. Instead of "Keep Away" it was now "Full steam ahead." (The Revolt, Menachem Begin, 1978, p. 217) (IMG)

That Eshkol relayed the message that the Altalena ship must be brought in leaves no doubt that the Ben-Gurion faction, if not Ben-Gurion himself, definitely approved of bringing the war materiel ship, for Eshkol, the Kautskyite Mapai terrorist, was the well-known agent, protege, and successor of David Ben-Gurion. It was Eshkol who continued Ben-Gurion's hostility to the Mapam at home and the Abdel-Nasser faction abroad. True, Eshkol was a weak personality whom the Mapam had an easier time pressuring. However, in this context, Eshkol truly represented the Defense Minister, Security Minister, and Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion. As a matter of fact, the Irgun high command and the Security Ministry had conferences in which the distribution of the arms and their allocations were decided with the Irgun:

I must therefore repeat: the Provisional Government knew about the arms ship sailing towards our shores…. And it was the Government that decided to bring the "Altalena" in during the truce period. Otherwise she would not have come.

After the Government had ordered the boat to be landed without delay, a conference began between the Security Ministry and our Staff concerning the unloading of the arms and their distribution. The Irgun Zvai Leumi was then an open military force recognised by the official institutions. Before the declaration of the State, the Greater Council of the Zionist Organisation had confirmed the agreement for military co-operation between us and the Haganah. (The Revolt, Menachem Begin, 1978, pp. 217-219) (IMG)

We [the Irgun and the  Ben-Gurion faction of the government] decided jointly on the point on the coast at which the boat should be brought in. This involved a change in the instruction we had given the captain in April. The "Altalena" as she waited for her men, her arms and her instructions, had been plying for some months between European ports and the north coast of Africa. She had been acquired by the Hebrew Committee of National Liberation and the American League for a Free Palestine, and we had intended bringing her in while the British forces were still ruling – with men or arms or both.

At that time we had decided that she should anchor off Tel Aviv, because by then (the end of 1947) the British forces had left the Tel Aviv-Petah Tikvah area as the first instalment of evacuation. The precise spot we had fixed for landing was Frishman Street. This detail too must be remembered well if the smokescreen of subsequent distortion is to be dissipated.

A Ministry of Security expert proposed that the boat should not come in at Tel Aviv but at Givat Olga or Kfar Vitkin near Nathanya, and so avoid the attention of U.N.O. observers. Our experts agreed; to them it made no difference at what point on the coast the boat arrived. The essential thing was the unloading of the arms. We, who suspected nothing because we plotted nothing, never imagined there were other motives than those affecting the unloading. So that day a further message went out to the "Altalena": to alter course and proceed to Kfar Vitkin.

The discussion then proceeded on the distribution of the arms. We proposed that one-fifth of the arms should be sent to Jerusalem to the Irgun Zvai Leumi units there, while the rest should be distributed throughout the unified army, among battalions consisting of Irgun men as well as among other battalions. Our proposal was just and justified. There were most serious reasons for it.

(The Revolt, Menachem Begin, 1978, pp. 219-220) (IMG)

Yisrael Galili transmitted to the Irgun terror chief Menachem Begin, the Ben-Gurion regime's approval of the transfer of the arms to the Jerusalem front:

Israel Galili, previously Commander of the Haganah, and at that time Deputy to the Minister of Security, informed me on the telephone that the Ministry had agreed to our proposal about Jerusalem. Twenty per cent of the arms from the "Altalena" were to be allotted to that front. We were overjoyed…. (The Revolt, Menachem Begin, 1978, p. 231) (IMG)

The arms were to go to a military force that would mark the merger of the Irgun with the Haganah. As is well-known, the predecessor of the IDF was the Haganah. The Haganah was the military organization whose general staff oversaw not just the Haganah itself but also the militaries affiliated with the non-Mapai parties – the Palmach, the Lehi, and the Irgun. The Haganah staff were the staff of the Israeli armed forces in general. The Haganah was to be the unified Israeli Army and did emerge such. Menachem Begin admitted that the arms and the Irgun terrorists on board were to join the unified Israeli Army and to fight for it most loyally:

And what would have happened if … we had unloaded all the arms and all the ammunition from the boat? The evilly-disposed whispered that we intended then to convey the arms to our underground armouries. But the truth is that by that time we had no more secret amouries. We had given the army all our arms and equipment, and they had full knowledge of where all our concentration points had been. (…).No less enlightening is the fact that in all our conversations we emphasised that the full supervision of the arms, after they were unloaded, would be handed over to the Army. All this was apparently part of the "secret preparations" for a "revolt against the Government!" Had we unloaded all the arms from the "Altalena" all of them would have gone into the hands of the unified army whose establishment we had called for from the moment the State was set up. Twenty per cent of the arms would have been despatched with the Government's consent, to Jerusalem—to Jerusalem as such and not to any particular force there—and the Old City might still, in spite of Shaltiel’s "dilatoriness" have been regained from the enemy.

(…). And not only her arms. "Altalena" brought over a battalion fighters. These young people were overwhelmed with joy when they reached the shores of their Homeland. I saw many of them kneeling and kissing the salty, damp sand on the shore. In my ears I still hear the echo of their joyful cries as their boats ran on to the beach.

How their joy was silenced, how they were welcomed is known. Nevertheless they came, and they entered the Army. And in the Army they served faithfully and fought courageously. The boys of the "Altalena" served on many fronts, participated in many victories, from Tarshiha to Eylat. Many of them distinguished themselves by their outstanding gallantry. Not a few fell in battle. Subjected to the most terrible and most trying of tribulations, they yet knew how to pass the supreme test of love for their country.

(The Revolt, Menachem Begin, 1978, pp. 234-235. Bold added.) (IMG)

In his diaries, Ben-Gurion admitted that he knew that the Altalena ship was to arrive in Israel, that he knew that the Altalena ship contained plenty of arms and units for Israel, that he believed that the Altalena should be welcomed rather than be sent back, and that it should be disembarked in a secret shore rather than a zone so highly populated as Tel Aviv. In the June 16, 1948 entry of the War Diaries, Ben-Gurion wrote:

Yisrael Galili and Skolnik [i.e. Levi Eshkol] met yesterday with Begin. Tomorrow or the next day their ship is due to arrive: 4,500 tons, bringing 800–900 men, 5,000 rifles, 250 Bren guns, 5 million bullets, 50 bazookas, 10 Bren carriers. Ze’evstein [the director of the Tel Aviv port] assumes that at night it will be possible to unload it all. I believe we should not endanger the Tel Aviv port. They should not be sent back. They should be disembarked at an unknown shore. (‘War Diaries, 1947-1949’, David Ben-Gurion, 1947-1949, p. 411. Edited by Gershon Rivlin & Elhanan Orren, Translated to Arabic by: Samir Jabbour) (IMG)

In other words, far from opposing the transfer of arms and soldiers to Israel's side of the war, Ben-Gurion supported such efforts. It also disproves the ridiculous narrative, promoted by Ben-Gurion in his 'Memoirs' book (not to be confused with the War Diaries cited here) years later, that he opposed the arrival of Altalena on the grounds that Israel should adhere to international law which called for the arms embargo.

The above quote from the Ben-Gurion diaries also eliminates possible doubts over Yisrael Galili's role in transmitting the message of the Ben-Gurion faction to the Irgun terrorists. General Yisrael Galili was a prominent Mapam member with long-standing ties to the Soviet spy Moshe Sneh. Along with Levi Eshkol, who was a Mapai general from the Ben-Gurion faction, he was tasked with transmitting the orders and messages of the Ben-Gurion faction to the Irgun terror command. In this midst, some may raise suspicion that Yisrael Galili was totally deceiving the Irgun, that Ben-Gurion's faction did not approve of the arrival of arms at all and that Galili was trolling Begin and conspiring to get the ship disembarked on a coast so that the Palmach would be able to hunt down the ship. Such an assertion, however, is unfounded, for Galili, while in the staff of the Haganah, and while having the decimation of Irgun as his agenda, was in one of the negotiation phases being surveiled by the Ben-Gurion faction agent Levi Eshkol; note that he carried out some of his missions of transmitting Ben-Gurion faction messages along with Levi Eshkol, who was able to spy on Yisrael Galili on Ben-Gurion's behalf, so to ensure that Galili gets the job done properly enough. Furthermore, again, the quote from Ben-Gurion shows that Ben-Gurion was aware of the arrival of the ship full of arms and that he approved of its arrival and unloading. Therefore, no, Galili's official approval of the unloading and arrival of Altalena really did represent the government and did not represent the Mapam.

Ben-Gurion definitely approved of the arrival of arms. Having said that, it is true, however, that Galili used his position to skillfully mislead Ben-Gurion’s gang and Begin’s terror group on some critical matters in the Altalena Affair. Yisrael Galili, it must be noted, was an intelligence agent of the Mapam faction at the high ranks of the Israeli military apparatus. Naturally, Ben-Gurion had for long been viciously hostile to him and had spared no chance to demote him. Nonetheless, thanks to the lobbying power of the Mapam in the Israeli government, Ben-Gurion was not able to totally dismiss him:

Galili – Mapam's senior security man – was the head of the Haganah's national headquarters from mid-1947 until he was fired by Ben-Gurion, creating a serious crisis, shortly before the declaration of independence. In order to resolve the "Galili Crisis," Ben-Gurion agreed to return Galili to his senior position in the defense establishment, but not to his previous position. (Through Rabin and His Legacy, Uri Milstein, Chapter 22) (IMG)

As such, Galili gained the lobbying power to influence some of the major tactical decisions in warfare in Israel. Yigal Yadin, the IDF’s Acting Chief of Staff, had been promoted by Ben-Gurion as a means of reducing the influence of the Mapam generals, but the influence of the Mapam agents in the Israeli military had been enough to encircle and coopt Yadin into ‘getting into line’ and cooperating with the Mapam. As such,:

Yigal Yadin, head of the IDF's Operations Division and acting chief of staff, … was then under the dominant influence of Yisrael Galili…. (Through Rabin and His Legacy, Uri Milstein, Chapter 22) (IMG)

As planned by Ben-Gurion, Altalena was originally intended to disembark in Kfar Vitkin, a zone farther away from the UN observers, but the General Yisrael Galili, through his then-coopted yes-man Yigal Yadin, was able to lobby for the deployment of IDF troops to attack the Altalena and force it to move away from the Kfar Vitkin shores. Shimon Peres, back then Ben-Gurion’s third most important henchman in the military, recalled:

Altalena anchored off Kfar Vitkin, a moshav between Tel Aviv and Haifa, and hopefully far from the prying eyes of UN observers, and began off-loading the weapons with the help of hundreds of supporters who had gathered at the site. Galili and Yadin deployed troops to surround the beach and ordered Begin to surrender. Some of the troops with Etzel [i.e. IZL] sympathies crossed the lines and joined the Altalena crew and its enthusiastic sympathizers. The ship, with Begin and other Revisionist leaders now on board, weighed anchor and put out to sea, chased by IDF craft. (‘Ben-Gurion : A Political Life’, Shimon Peres, 2011, p. 123) (IMG)

In any case, the Altalena war materiel ship ended up in Tel Aviv:

At midnight, on Tuesday, June 22, the guard noticed at the Palmach headquarters that an unidentified ship was approaching the shore. Nathaniel Hitron, the Palmach training officer, who was the officer on duty, immediately reported to the General Staff in Ramat Gan. Yigal Yadin, head of the IDF's Operations Division and acting chief of staff, who was then under the dominant influence of Yisrael Galili, consulted with him. Galili – Mapam's senior security man – was … a contractor for special missions in the defense establishment, including everything related to the Irgun and the Lehi. (Through Rabin and His Legacy, Uri Milstein, Chapter 22) (IMG)

Ehud Sprinzak, the advisor to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin on right-wing violence, the topic about which he was a professor and a scholar, wrote extensively on the Altalena affair. Sprinzak wrote that Begin got the ship as close to the Tel Aviv beach, convinced that Ben-Gurion would not approve of any shooting:

Altalena's last day started with the midnight arrival of the ship at Tel Aviv beach. Irgun supreme commander Menachem Begin and a few of his officers were aboard, as well as the ship's crew, several overseas volunteers, and about forty Irgun fighters. Convinced that Ben-Gurion would not order the army to attack Altalena … Begin ordered the former World War Il ship to get as close to the beach as possible…. (Brother against Brother: Violence and Extremism in Israeli Politics from Altalena to the Rabin Assassination, Ehud Sprinzak, 1999, p. 25) (IMG)

In this midst, the Palmach fighters went towards the Altalena in order to ‘help’ the Irgun terrorists. Actually, such ‘help’ was aimed towards Mapam-Palmach espionage against the Irgun fascists with the objective of eventually demolishing the Altalena and killing its terrorists on board. For the purpose of espionage and maintaining the cover of ‘helping’ the Irgun, the Palmach did not vigorously oppose the travel of the first boat from the ship:

Altalena's command [decided] to begin unloading the cargo. A boat carrying arms and a dozen armed men was sent to the beach with the additional purpose of starting negotiations with the government. While announcing their intention to unload and asking their supporters in the area for help, Altalena’s loudspeakers called upon the soldiers to hold their fire. The announcement was accompanied by a warning that if fired at, Altalena men would respond in kind. The first boat made its way to the beach safely. and the men quickly took combat positions the army. Palmach and Irgun soldiers spoke to one another and even agreed on informal boundaries that would hold as long as there was no firing from the other side. (Brother against Brother: Violence and Extremism in Israeli Politics from Altalena to the Rabin Assassination, Ehud Sprinzak, 1999, p. 28) (IMG)

Menachem Begin himself confirmed that the Palmach fighters that were there to ‘help’ the Irgun were actually anti-Irgun spies:

On the spot we were helped by a number of Palmach men in a boat. Today I have no doubt that they were sent not so much to help as to spy on us. At the time we accepted their help … without a shadow of suspicion. (The Revolt, Menachem Begin, 1978, p. 233) (IMG)

After the first Irgun boat was unloaded,:

The situation changed dramatically with the arrival of the second boat, however. (Brother against Brother: Violence and Extremism in Israeli Politics from Altalena to the Rabin Assassination, Ehud Sprinzak, 1999, p. 28) (IMG)

According to Milstein,:

At 1:15 AM, "Altalena" sent a boat to shore. Hitron, who saw himself as the last protector of Israeli democracy, warned the ship's commanders to return the boat. When left unanswered, the Palmach fired several shots. (Through Rabin and His Legacy, Uri Milstein, Chapter 22) (IMG)

In this scenario,:

Palmach commanders ordered the second boat to return to the ship. When the Irgun sailors refused, gunfire broke out for the first time and both sides suffered casualties. Fire was also directed at the ship. Short cease-fires were negotiated by the local commanders to evacuate the wounded. (Brother against Brother: Violence and Extremism in Israeli Politics from Altalena to the Rabin Assassination, Ehud Sprinzak, 1999, p. 28) (IMG)

These Palmach strikes at the Irgun terrorists in Tel Aviv too were at the behest of Galili:

Galili advised to respond very firmly – to the point of opening fire. At 12:30 AM, Yadin ordered to Hitron on the phone: "In case of an attempt to break out of the ship, open fire. In case of people going ashore, warn not to go ashore. If they continue to descend, open fire on them." Yadin will inform Hitron that the command for the operation against Altalena has been assigned to the Kiryati Brigade, and that the members of the Palmach headquarters will be subordinate to it. In other words, they ordered Palmach members to open fire, at their discretion, without Yadin himself, without another senior commander directly commanding IDF forces on the line of contact, without Ben-Gurion, and without a senior official representative on his behalf, being present. This is how they determined the nature of the events that day on the shores of Tel Aviv, which reached the brink of civil war, and determined the nature of the political system in Israel from then until now. To give security into the hands of the Palmach training officer is to give permission to detonate all explosives immediately.

After passing the order to the Palmach men, Yadin imposed the command of the "Akhdut" [‘Unity’] operation against the "Altalena" on the Kiryat Mishmar Battalion of the Kiryati Brigade. Zvi Orbach, the battalion commander, established his headquarters on the second floor balcony of the Kata Dan Hotel at 101 Hayarkon Street. The battalion lacked operational capability because its men refused to act against Etzel members.

(Through Rabin and His Legacy, Uri Milstein, Chapter 22) (IMG)

The clashes with the Irgun were not seen by the public as clashes between the Mapam and the Likudniks, but were rather seen as a conflict between the Provisional Government of Israel headed by Ben-Gurion/Mapai and the Irgun forces. Haganah clashes with the Irgun would have agitated the Jabotinskyite elements of the public into mob action against Ben-Gurion’s headquarters, not knowing that Ben-Gurion was an ally of the Jabotinskyites. At that time, recalled Shimon Peres, Ben-Gurion’s team in the headquarters compound were bogged down to ensuring that Ben-Gurion’s office would not be stormed by the demonstrators. This forced the Ben-Gurion faction to reduce attention to the Altalena Affair and to pay more attention to saving themselves from potential mob storming. Through one chess move, Galili had sabotaged Ben-Gurion’s plan form armaments for the Irgun while also bogging down Ben-Gurion’s terror gang into worrying about clashes with demonstrators:

It sailed south toward Tel Aviv and eventually ran aground close to the shore. At army headquarters in Ramat Gan, I spent that night with a rifle in my hand in Ben-Gurion's office, in case the headquarters compound was stormed by demonstrators. (‘Ben-Gurion : A Political Life’, Shimon Peres, 2011, p. 123) (IMG)

Bogged down in his own office, Ben-Gurion clearly did not have enough access to information to be able to lead Israel’s military in this crisis. Utilizing this opportunity, Galili assured Ben-Gurion that the ship had surrendered after a brief naval battle:

At 2:00 AM, the naval headquarters reported to Ben-Gurion that the ship had surrendered in the middle of the sea, after a naval battle. This was almost the only detail from the events of that day that Ben-Gurion mentioned in his diary. This ... false report reassured Ben-Gurion, leaving Galili more than an hour and a half free to ‘cook the stew’ - until Ben-Gurion took over the management of the crisis. (Through Rabin and His Legacy, Uri Milstein, Chapter 22) (IMG)

Ben-Gurion was misled and ‘carried away’ by the reality of having to deal with potential mob storming. Hence,:

About twenty years after the tragedy, one of the people closest to Mr. Ben Gurion came to me and told me, on his own initiative, the following words: "We have arrived at the conclusion that in the Altalena matter Ben Gurion was misled."  (The Revolt, Menachem Begin, 1978, pp. 22-23) (IMG)

The person who stated so to Begin was Shimon Peres:

In May 1967, in the midst of discussions on the formation of a national unity government, MK Shimon Peres - then Rafi's secretary and Ben-Gurion's associate - visited Begin's home in Tel Aviv several times.  At one of these meetings, Peres said: "We investigated the Altalena case, and came to the conclusion that they misled Ben-Gurion."  (Through Rabin and His Legacy, Uri Milstein, Chapter 22) (IMG)

Menachem Begin further specified that a particular person had misled Ben-Gurion:

Immediately after the Likud 1977 election victory, Begin attended the remembrance ceremony for the 16 comrades who died on board the ill-fated Altalena. [Among the dead was Abraham Stavsky]. In his address to the gathering he stated: "Ben-Gurion was mislead [sic; meant ‘misled’] concerning the matter of the Altalena. Someone mislead him and told him that the ship arrived to help Etzel [i.e. IZL, or Irgun Zvi Leumi] take control of the State. On this information, an order was given to shell the ship." He said that he heard this from a member of the Labour Party who had stated: "We investigated the Altalena incident and came to the conclusion … [ellipsis original] that Ben-Gurion was misled." (The Politics of Memory: The Israeli Underground’s Struggle for Inclusion in the National and Military Commemorialization, Routledge, Udi Lebel, 2012 p. 236) (IMG)

In fact, it was Galili who misled Ben-Gurion by providing minimal intelligence, and where having to provide intelligence, he provided false intelligence to Ben-Gurion and the cabinet ministers from the Ben-Gurion faction:

In the Altalena affair, too, Galili played the role of the false-information provider. (Through Rabin and His Legacy, Uri Milstein, Chapter 22) (IMG)

Yitzhak Greenbaum, a member of the General Zionists, Minister of the Interior in the Ben-Gurion government, was already suspicious on June 22, 1948 of Galili's manipulative game. Greenbaum said that a report by Galili to the government was inaccurate, and after hearing the Irgun's version from Haim Landau, he thought "one should always synthesize from two sides, and only then get a little closer to the truth." (Through Rabin and His Legacy, Uri Milstein, Chapter 22) (IMG)

To project confidence, Ben-Gurion pretended to have known nothing about the Altalena at all, and to have opposed the violation of international law by the Israeli regime! Begin recalled:

In the summer of 1971, the internal debate on dissidence, the "season" and Altalena, broke out, or was renewed. It has, of course, not yet ended. It demonstrated beyond all doubt that there is a contradiction which cannot be bridged between the public statements of Mr. Ben Gurion and Mr. Galili. (...). Counter to Mr. Galili, Mr. Ben Gurion, who was then Prime Minister and Defence Minister, reasserts that he knew nothing of the Altalena's arrival until June 19, 1948. What happened then during those four fateful days? In whose name did the authorized representative of the Defence Minister make the positive statement following that night meeting? But if he had been empowered by the Prime Minister to relay to me this decision, for the Altalena to come with all possible speed, how can Mr. Ben Gurion claim that he heard of the arms ship only four whole day later? (The Revolt, Menachem Begin, 1978, pp. 22-24) (IMG)

The diaries of David Ben-Gurion leave no doubt that he was well aware of the Altalena as early as June 16th. Thus, Ben-Gurion was blatantly lying when he said that he did not know about the ship’s arrival until the 19th. Furthermore, note that Menachem Begin had expressed sympathies with Ben-Gurion by reiterating Shimon Peres’s claim that Ben-Gurion was misled in the Altalena Affair. It follows that if having to lay the blame upon either of Ben-Gurion or Galili, Begin would have blamed Galili. Such was Begin’s insunation/implication from the above excerpts from his memoirs.

Menachem Begin also wrote:

The Palmach commander then offered to "cease fire" provided we unloaded no more arms. To this we agreed. The fire ceased and the unloading ceased. We informed the commander that we had a number of wounded on board. Our small boat had been damaged and could not be used to land them. We asked for a boat to take them off, as there was now no doctor on board and many of them were in a very serious condition.

The Palmach officer promised to send a boat immediately from Tel Aviv port. We waited. One hour, two hours. But no boat came. The condition of the wounded grew worse.

Suddenly . . . something whistled over our heads. Munroe Fine exclaimed: "That's a shell! They'll set the ship on fire!" We called to the Palmach commander, reminding him that he had promised a complete cessation of fire. He did not reply. A second shell, a third, a fourth. They had bracketed the ship and were creeping up to their target. Munroe was in despair. I proposed that he and his American colleagues who were engaged as navigators and not as soldiers, should leave the ship and that the rest of us should remain. He would not hear of it. He pointed out that the ship would inevitably blow up if the shelling continued, in view of her cargo of explosives and that the only way to save her was to hoist a white flag. This he did. But that symbol of surrender amongst civilized combatants did not help. The shells kept on coming. We called again to the Palmach commander. "You undertook to stop firing. Why are you shelling us?" His answer came after a pause. His actual words deserve to go on record:

"There is a general 'cease fire' but the order has not yet reached all the units of the Army."

A few minutes later a shell penetrated the belly of the ship. Fire broke out and smoke poured forth.

(The Revolt, Menachem Begin, 1978, p. 239-240) (IMG)

The sentence “There is a general 'cease fire' but the order has not yet reached all the units of the Army” deserves attention, for it could imply that the Palmach commander – either Yitzhak Rabin or Yigal Allon – had refused to obey the ceasefire directive sent from above. Anyways, shortly after the first series of clashes with the Irgun terrorists, the Palmach forces commanded by the Mapam-affiliated commanders, Yigal Allon and his protégé Yitzhak Rabin, launched a military operation sinking the Altalena ship, destroying the plentiful war materiel – the thousands of units of arms – that existed in it, and killing Irgun terrorists, including the infamous Irgun terrorist leader Abraham Stavsky, even when the Irgun terrorists wanted to stop the fighting with the Palmach:

Palmach’s command post was manned by auxiliary and support units with only a few fit combatants. One of these was Palmach operations chief, Colonel Yitzhak Rabin. Rabin came to Tel Aviv for a meeting and made an early detour to meet his girlfriend, Lea, who was serving in the Palmach communications center. Instantly the senior officer in the building, Rabin understood the potential danger of Irgun men storming the Palmach headquarters. Rabin reacted quickly, throwing hand grenades at Irgun men who approached the building and ordering several Palmach off-duty combat units to report immediately to the scene. Rabin’s superior, Palmach commander Yigal Alon, soon took over. Replacing the incompetent Kiriyati commander, Alon ordered full mobilization. The situation was getting out of hand and casualties were mounting. The men aboard Altalena, who showed no intention of surrendering, were not allowed to carry their wounded to the beach for fear they would bring in more guns and ammunition.

The ensuing explosion on Altalena, which forced its people to evacuate the ship, was not the only ordeal. Some Palmach and army units continued to shoot at the swimming survivors despite a number of white flags flown on the ship's deck to indicate surrender. Not all the fire was meant to kill, but there were egregious exceptions.

(Brother against Brother: Violence and Extremism in Israeli Politics from Altalena to the Rabin Assassination, Ehud Sprinzak, 1999, pp. 28-29) (IMG)


BBC World Service - Witness History, The assassination of Yitzhak RabinA person in a suit and tieDescription automatically generated

Yitzhak Rabin and Yigal Allon – two key Mapam agents within the high ranks of the Israeli state apparatus


In this midst, the Palmach freedom-fighters’ bombing of Altalena placed David Ben-Gurion and his Kautskyite gang at a difficult position. Ben-Gurion no doubt covertly and secretly sympathized with the Irgun terrorists. The bombing of Altalena was done by the Palmach, the military force of the Soviet spy front Mapam, the party which held many ministers in the Provisional Government of Israel. At a time in which Israel had been defeated in its battles with the Arabs in the first phase of the 1948 War, the Ben-Gurion faction held much reduced leverage whereas the Arab-friendly Mapam/Palmach had gained greater leverage in the Israeli regime thanks to Arab successes in the first phase of the War. Ben-Gurion could not so vigorously oppose the Mapam. Furthermore, the shipment of arms to Israel and the violation of international embargo was to be a top secret, not something which Ben-Gurion could do openly. Although Ben-Gurion and the Israeli regime leaders have repeatedly violated internal law rather blatantly, certainly international law did reinforce the Mapam lobby in Israel. Furthermore, the unloading of the arms was being done in Tel Aviv and the bombing of:

Altalena [was] in front of thousands of Tel Avivans…. (Brother against Brother: Violence and Extremism in Israeli Politics from Altalena to the Rabin Assassination, Ehud Sprinzak, 1999, p. 28) (IMG)

Ben-Gurion could condemn Arabs very easily but he could not condemn Israeli generals and Israeli fighters for observing international law and destroying an arms shipment that violated the international arms embargo. For these reasons, Ben-Gurion had no choice but to pretend to be fully in line with the Palmach freedom-fighters that destroyed the Irgun terror ship. Moshe Dayan wrote in his memoirs:

When the first U.N. cease-fire went into effect on June 11, 1948, Israel and the Arab states agreed not to introduce new arms into their territories. Both sides, of course, violated this agreement, but covertly. However, the Irgun resolved to bring in an arms shipment openly on the Altalena. This act could only be viewed as an irresponsible and wanton defiance of government authority, and it had to be vigorously and speedily dealt with. (The Story of My Life, Moshe Dayan, 1976, p. 95) (IMG)

Moshe Dayan violated international law many times throughout his life. He therefore could not have cared about international law banning arms shipments, and he was correct to say that the Arabs too violated the international law on this matter, which was why Czechoslovak and Soviet arms shipments to the Arabs were done in secret. Nonetheless, reading in between the lines of the above statements by Moshe, one can see a reason behind Dayan’s and Ben-Gurion’s feeling of compulsion to publicly voice ‘support’ for the Palmach freedom-fighters’ operation against Altalena: ‘the Irgun resolved to bring in an arms shipment openly on the Altalena’. The Irgun had no intention of bringing the arms shipment openly but the scheduling difficulties, created by General Yisrael Galili, caused the secret to be revealed, and the Palmach used this opportunity.

No, Ben-Gurion did not mind that there would be a moral backlash against Israel for the violation of international law. Throughout its existence, the Ben-Gurion faction got ‘the job’ done without regard for international law. The diplomatic isolation of Israel mattered so little for the Ben-Gurion faction because the Ben-Gurion faction was fighting for its self-entrenchment and fuller establishment in Israel against the Arab armies. Surely, the diplomatic isolation of Israel was going to force the American armament of Israel to be even more secretive and more covert. Covert/secretive operations are generally far costlier. However, the strategic and tactical benefits to be gained through such massive arms supply to Israel far outweighed any considerations of such petty costs as the increased cost of keeping the armament of Israel secret, and such even pettier issues as ‘diplomatic isolation’. Diplomatic isolation and the cost of armaments were to be won through battles. An Israeli military conquest of Arab territory would have delivered Israel’s regime so much leverage as to render it a voice so loud in the international matters that it could no longer be ignored and hence no longer feasible to diplomatically isolate. An Israeli military conquest of Arab territory would have brought so much economic benefit as to outweigh the costs of increasing the secretiveness of the secret arms sales to Israel. Hence, the real matter for the Ben-Gurion faction was neither the question of the diplomatic isolation nor the increased cost of the armament of Israel. Rather, the real issue at stake, which led Ben-Gurion to publicly endorse the Palmach’s heroic operation against Altalena, was that such a heroic operation was a fait accompli. After the operation was launched and the secrets were revealed, Ben-Gurion had no better choice than to pretend to be in line with international law and hence to support the crackdown on the Israeli terrorist materiel ship. In a similar spirit as with Moshe Dayan’s words, Begin wrote:

This fact must be re-emphasized, for it is from this point onwards in this sad history that the black smokescreen has been thrown up. The Provisional Government later published sanctimonious statements that while the Irgun had tried to disregard the UNO truce orders, the Government, in observance of international law, was compelled to destroy the arms brought to Eretz Israel in contravention of the truce. (The Revolt, Menachem Begin, 1978, pp. 217-219) (IMG)

Ben-Gurion could not publicly reveal the real force behind the operation against Altalena, which was the Mapam/Palmach:

To avoid bloody civil war at all costs – this principle, tempered in the sufferings of the "season," we observed years later in the test of blood and fire of the "Altalena."

It is no longer a secret that this famous arms-ship served as the instrument of a sinister plot. When Mr. Ben Gurion, on the rostrum of the first Israel parliament, modestly boasted "I have some part in that ship lying not far away from here," he was interrupted by a question from a member of Mapai: "But who was it who urged you to do it?"

Mr. Ben Gurion was silent. His silence was perhaps even more eloquent than any words.

(The Revolt, Menachem Begin, 1978, p. 214) (IMG)

For the bombing of Altalena however, it was not the Palmach that was blamed. Rather, the Irgun was blamed and accused by the Mapam of seeking to overthrow the State of Israel through a military coup:

Official propaganda, hiding behind the smokescreen, pretended that the Irgun had brought over the "Altalena" in order to prepare an armed revolt against the Government of Israel. (The Revolt, Menachem Begin, 1978, p. 216) (IMG)

The "Altalena" affair took place about a month after the declaration of independence, during the first truce, and was intended to empty the agreement of its contents, dismantle Etzel [i.e. IZL, or Irgun] units in the IDF, remove Etzel commanders from command positions, and further damage the reputation of Begin and his comrades. According to the provocation, the Irgun planned to carry out a "putsch" against the Ben-Gurion government. (Through Rabin and His Legacy, Uri Milstein, Chapter 22) (IMG)

Palmach General Yigal Allon, the master of cover-up operations, propagated a highly sensationalized myth that the Irgun was taking over the Tel Aviv and street clashes would have soon occurred, as a part of a supposed Irgun ‘coup plot’:

Allon … described an entirely different situation, one where the Irgun fighters had taken control of key points in and around Tel Aviv, stirred up the local people and captured positions along the shore. He also witnessed exchanges of fire between IDF soldiers and Irgun cells from the beach and from the ship.

“It quickly became clear to me that without reinforcements for the IDF in Tel Aviv, we would not be able to quell the rebellion,” Allon wrote, adding that he had two alternatives: fire on the ship “and cause heavy losses it its people,” or let them come ashore with their arms, “something that would have led to bitter street battles.”

(‘The Man Who Jumped Off the Altalena, the Ship That Nearly Caused an Israeli Civil War’, Ha’aretz, Ofer Aderet, June 17, 2018) (IMG)

When the news was leaked to the press that Ben-Gurion was misled in the Altalena Affair, Allon was among the first to react quickly and to assert that the strike on the ship carrying arms for Israel was totally at the behest of Ben-Gurion, and that no, Ben-Gurion was not misled in the matter. Yigal Allon and Yitzhak Rabin had divided their tasks. Allon would be the tactful Israeli official who would always appear to be in line with the will of the Israeli regime apparatus, all the while covertly and behind-the-scenes operating against the Israeli regime. Under the radar, he operated. Diplomatic, reserved, meticulously measured, mysterious in aura, he carefully hid his intents and feelings. Unsurprisingly, Allon emerged as the most prominent anti-regime dissident within the regime. The 2nd most prominent anti-regime dissident inside the regime was designated to support the 1st most prominent anti-regime dissident by blurting out the truth and speaking out loud. Allon’s closest protégé, Yitzhak Rabin, did go along with the Israeli regime propaganda in many cases, but relative to Allon, he was far less tactful and far less diplomatic – deliberately so. He had a reputation for it. It is no surprise that the Israeli right-wing historiographers, Uri Milstein most infamous among them, always attack Rabin more than Allon even though Allon was always the more important person for them to target insofar as the ‘War of Independence’ is concerned. They do not have many Yigal Allon quotes to attack Allon for. Later on, by the mid-1960s, Yitzhak Rabin emerged as the 1st most prominent dissident insider of the regime, and Allon the 2nd.

In some ways, the Mapam/Palmach lobby in the Israeli regime was correct to say that an Irgun power group was in the making, because the Irgun sought to transition Israel from a Kautskyite ‘social democracy’ of the settler-colonial type to a blatantly Mussolinite, Pinochet-style, theocratic, authoritarian, neoliberal, anti-kibbutznik, overtly misogynistic, settler-colonial fascist regime under which the progressive elements in the Israeli regime’s armed forces would be purged, pretty much all the Arab citizens would be in slave camps or extermination camps, and the progressive or democratic elements that existed in the Israeli state apparatus would be cleansed away as much as possible by the Irgun fascists. Thus, by maximizing its weapons arsenal, the Irgun was going to gain enough lobbying power to render Israel into such a totalitarian fascist regime; it did seek to overthrow the democratic and progressive elements in the government of Israel. Nonetheless, it should be obvious for any observer that the narrative of full-scale ‘military coup’ at that specific phase was a sensationalist distortion and exaggeration, far from the full truth – the dominant tendency in the government of Israel was the Ben-Gurion faction, the ally of the Irgun. The Irgun had no reason to overthrow the Ben-Gurion faction, but rather was arming itself and the Haganah to come to the aid of the Ben-Gurion faction in purging the Mapam/Palmach elements – the agents of the Israeli proletariat and the kibbutzim, reinforced in leverage by the anti-imperialist Arab armies armed by the USSR – and rendering Israel into the Mussolinite state envisioned by the Irgun.

That sacred-most of the Palmach artillery produced the glorious moment of the Epic of Altalena, and will be remembered in history as a counter-example to the view that the Israeli population was hopelessly reactionary, quasi-monolithically fascist, devoid of class contradictions and united behind the aggressive warmonger agenda of the Anglo-American colonizers. The Altalena Epic, a key moment in the history of Israelite revolutionary class warfare against Israeli fascism, marked a Cold War confrontation between the Soviet-backed Mapam generals and the CIA-MI6 terrorists, Irgun. The Altalena masterpiece was not a fratricidal war between the Israelis, but a case of proletarian and kibbutznik class warfare aimed at rolling back the influence of the agents of Anglo-American finance capital over the Israeli state apparatus, increasing the leverage power of the Mapamite agents of the Israeli proletariat and the kibbutzniks over Israel’s means of violence – the armed forces – and to utilize this leverage over the armed forces to transition Israel into a workers’ state allied to the USSR, the Peoples’ Democracies, and the progressive Arab forces, against the CIA-MI6 fascist agents in the region.



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Image credits:


Yigal Allon.

Altalena image shown in Forward orignally in black-and-white.