The Palmach

In May 1941, the Palmach – the striking units of the Hagana (the main underground military organization of the Jewish community in the Land of Israel under the British Mandate) – was mobilized as a national force under the high command of the Hagana and subject to decisions taken by the leaders of the Zionist movement. During the years 1941-1942 the force numbered about 1,000 men and women who fought alongside the allied forces against the Axis powers. The name Palmach stood for the words Plugot Machatz which means Stike Companies. Palmach's first commander was General Yitzhak Sadeh, who was succeeded by General Yigal Alon.

The Palmach's members were highly motivated by the cultural and social values of the Kibbutz Movement in the Land of Israel, values which contributed to the high ethical standards of those units in battle. They combined work in the kibbutzim for their living with clandestine military training and operations. Accordingly, the Palmach was ideologically identified with the left-leaning, labor, sector of the Zionist Movement.

In 1947, now numbering 2,100 fighters and recognized as the main underground force, the Palmach took upon itself a great part of the burden of fighting against the British: bringing immigrants from Europe and North Africa on board of 65 Hagana vessels which were often less than seaworthy (Aliya Bet operation); smuggling Syrian and Lebanese Jews out of these countries and bringing them to the Land of Israel by hazardous land routes; sabotaging radar & police stations, railways and bridges.

When the War of Independence broke out, the three Palmach brigades, the Negev, Iftach and Harel numbered 6,000 men and women, of whom 1,000 fell in action. The contribution of the Palmach, all across the country, during the War of Independence, was crucial and at times proved to be the decisive factor in the victory. Members of the Palyam, the naval unit of the Palmach, comprised the ranks and files of the newly born Israeli Navy.

The Palmach was disbanded in Nov. 1948 by a specific order of David Ben-Gurion who was afraid of the political affiliation of the Palmach and insisted that the newly-born IDF (Israel Defence Forces) should provide the sole framework for all Jewish military units.

After the 1948 War, veterans of the Palmach established 40 new kibbutzim around the country. Many of the Palmach commanders were appointed to key positions in the high command of the IDF, among them seveal Chiefs of Staff: Moshe Dayan, Yitzhak Rabin, Chaim Bar-Lev, David "Dado" Elazar, Mordechai "Motta" Gur and Rafael "Raful" Eitan. These commanders helped to maintain the tradition of the Palmach in the IDF, arguably to the present day.

The stamp was issued in 1992. It displays the Palmach's logo. The beginning of the Palmach's hymn is written of the tab. Designer: G. Sagi.