In the fight against the British during the years 1945-47, the men of the Palyam - a company in the Palmach’s 4th Battalion – participated in
various land operations such as the “Night of the Railroads” (large scale sabotage by the Hagana of railroads on Nov. 1st, 1945) and the attacks on the Sidni Ali and
Giv’at Olga police stations. All this was in addition to the routine maritime activities of the Palyam - escorting
Aliya Bet vessels, deployments on shores in
anticipation of the vessels' arrival, attacks on the British Navy's installations and ships, and training.
After the U.N. decision in favor of creating the State of Israel on 29th November, the Palyamniks were called upon to contribute to the land warfare against
the Palestinian forces during the critical and difficult period between March – May 1948:
1. About 200 seamen joined the Palmach’s 4th Battalion (to which the Palyam belonged) in the critical “Nachshon” operation, the aim of which was
removing the siege of Jerusalem. 70(!) of them were killed in this operation. When the operation was over, most of them joined the rest of their friends
who were already serving in the Naval Service (which later became the Israeli Navy), following the separation of the Palyam from the Palmach by the
order establishing the Naval Service (see ‘From the Palyam to the Israeli Navy’).
2. The [Haifa] Port Company -- a special company of the Palmach's 4th
Battalion, commanded by the Palyamnik Yochai Ben-Nun, that was established at
the end of 1947 to protect the Jewish interests in the port and the port's
civilian Jewish workers from Arab attacks -- joined the Carmeli Brigade in its battle for the conquest of the lower city of Haifa. When that operation was
completed they joined the Naval Service (the initial phase of the newly-born Israeli Navy) and established its Haifa Naval Base.
Many of the Palyam members that had been accompanying Aliya Bet vessels were ordered, after the State of Israel was declared, to escort the
arms ships and the ships
bringing Olim (legal immigrants to Israel) and Machal volunteers (volunteers from abroad to the Independence
War). They served under the
jurisdiction of the Mossad Le’Aliya (previously Ha'Mossad Le’Aliya Bet) and the system in charge of the arms procurement.
These men were cast adrift,
so to speak, as they neither belonged to the Naval Service nor anymore to the Palmach’s 4th Battalion, which had become part of the Harel Brigade and
renamed “Ha’Portzim” Battalion. Several of these “homeless” Palyamniks, who wanted to fight in the Independence War, joined various Palmach units on an
individual basis (e.g. a group of 8 joined up with the Negev Brigade).
The Castel - the symbol for the bitter fight over the route to Jerusalem, April 1948
A plaque commemorating the breakthrough of the Zion Gate and the bringing of desperately needed supply
to the Jewish Quarter by Ha’Portzim Battalion, Palmach, May 18-19, 1948
Serving in the Negev Brigade, Oct. 1948 (from right: David "Migdal" Teperson - Machalnik from S.Africa, and the Palyam veterans Eitan Yakovson and Yehuda Ben-tzur)