תקציר

The molders of the Palmach's military thinking assumed that military doctrine is an integral part of the worldview and experience of the community and individuals who comprise the military unit. Their guiding fundamental principles: perceiving an individual as the center of power of the military system, educating an individual to think independently and nurturing an individual's personal involvement in understanding the principles of warfare and its objectives.

Military thinking, suitable for the conditions in Mandatory Palestine and the status of Jews in the region during the British mandate, formulated through a long and continuous process. It originated in the days of the Shomer organization, with the self defense of body and property. It continued during the period from the establishment of the Hagana in 1920 till the mid 30s, with the fortification of settlements and defensive strategies, i.e. – linking the response to enemy attacks. A substantial change in the military perception occurred during the Arab Riots (1936-1939), with the first attempts at offensive operations outside the domain of the Jewish settlements, in ambushes carried out by the Mobile Unit under the command of Yitzhak Sade in the Jerusalem Mountains; in operations by the Special Night Squads headed by Orde Wingate, and in the establishment of the Combat Field companies (POSH).
In 1941, the Palmach was founded. Palmach training and operations at the beginning of the 1940s accelerated the development and formulation of the original Israeli military doctrine and its refinement. During the War of Independence, the military doctrine faced its most challenging test in field combat.

The people who shaped the Palmach's military thinking assumed that the military doctrine is an integral part of the worldview and experience of the community and individuals who comprise the military unit. Their guiding fundamental principles: perceiving an individual as the center of power of the military system, educating an individual to think independently and nurturing an individual's personal involvement in understanding the principles of warfare and its objectives. These principles contributed to the consolidation of the Palmach's military values, the central of which were constant education aimed at challenging conventions and flexible thinking, initiative in setting operational objectives, their timing and force, the indirect assault approach and combining minor tactics warfare with regular daytime and nighttime warfare operations.

The ideas and personality of Yitzhak Sade, the first commander of the Palmach, had a decisive impact on the development of the Brigade's military thinking. Sade believed that existing models in foreign armies should not be copied, and an officer's class should not be cultivated as a closed caste of professionals. Military strategy and theory should not be shaped by experts, but rather should be consolidated similar to the work of an artist, who uses the materials at his disposal and in his environment. The contributions of Yigal Alon, who replaced Sade as the commander of the Palmach, and Yitzhak Dovno (Yoav), the Palmach's Chief Training Officer (who fell in battle in Kibbutz Negba during the War of Independence) should also be noted. Replacing the uniformity and procedures typical of military systems with original tactics, customized to the Palmach's means and personnel, guided and directed the military theories of the Palmach's founders and commanders.

Operating as part of the Palmach's HQ was a professional committee that was charged with developing the strategies and consolidating military doctrine for the Brigade. The committee was headed by the Commander of the Palmach, and its members included the Deputy Commander, Operations Officer, Training Officer and several select commanders. The fruit of their work was evident in the level of training of the units and in their character, in the development of military professions and roles that were unknown till that time in the Hagana, and in cultivating a stratum of young commanders who excelled in the original approaches to military issues. The military doctrine created in the Palmach was influenced by the sense of superiority and professionalism in the field of security that was projected by the Brigade's personnel and commanders. This also made them feel unique and confident in their ability to fulfill any order handed down by the leaders of the Jewish Yishuv. The Palmach's approach matured in the Hagana, learning from both the British army doctrine and also from confrontations, as well as by way of contrast to the regular army approach accepted by representatives of the organization who served in British army units and in the Jewish Brigade during the Second World War.

David Ben-Gurion, who from December of 1946 held the Defense portfolio in the Jewish Agency, was severely critical of the Palmach's military doctrine. His criticism was influenced by the political struggle within the Labor movement and by his profound lack of faith in military theory that was not based on training in regular armies.

The Palmach was not founded as a regular army force, but rather as a volunteer military force, recruited on a regular basis within the framework of the Hagana, designated to serve the defensive goals, and if necessary the political goals, of the Zionist movement. Its military roles included: fighting based on minor tactics warfare in underground conditions; policing militia during demonstrations, bodyguards in assemblies and internal political conflicts within the Jewish Yishuv; leading the settlement and illegal immigration efforts; creating an organizational and theoretical infrastructure for fighting as a regular army.

In the Palmach, the Hagana's fighting doctrine was consolidated and forged from two aspects: from the force building aspect and from the fighting methods aspect. The Palmach's achievements affected the political considerations of the heads of the Zionist movement, impacted on their sense of strength and reinforced the national demands presented by the political decision makers. Thus, the military thinking formulated by the Palmach was significant in shaping the path taken by the Jewish Yishuv in Mandatory Palestine. The "esprit de corps" was perceived in military doctrine as a means of motivating a unit to execute its tasks, from dreary mundane tasks to zeal on the battlefield, where the utmost mental and physical efforts were required. In the Palmach, the "esprit de corps" was also perceived as a goal unto itself, expressing the loyalty of its members to the values, and the coherence of the fighting unit. In training methods, agricultural work, education and reasoning, in folklore, regime and conduct, in treks and in operations – attention was devoted to cultivating the fighter's character and the combat units within which he operated. The "esprit de corps" in the Palmach, sometimes perceived as haughtiness and arrogance, was a significant component in the creation of the force and development of the Brigade's fighting abilities.

The Palmach's military thinking was conveyed to the fighters and commanders in training, in meetings, and through underground publications in the Palmach journal. This was one of the central roles of the journal, alongside providing news from the Brigade and spreading the word. The journal served as a forum for original presentation of professional issues and publication of articles from the Hagana movement's journal – Ma'arachot (Systems).

נושאי משנה

Palmach Fighting Methods
Training Objectives
Discipline
The Palmach's Treks

Information Archive
The Beginning of the Palmach
Struggle against the British
The War of Independence
Dismantling of the Palmach
Palmach and the Settlements
The Palmach's Military Thinking
Units and Organizational Structure
Female Palmach Members
Culture and Folklore
Palmach Contribution and Legacy