Land Warfare

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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 Castel - the symbol for the bitter fight over the route to Jerusalem, April 1948

Breakthrough Zion Gate
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

fighting in the Negev
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)
Land Operations

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