The Saison

The Saison (Hunting Season) (Hebrew: הסזון‎, short for French: la saison de chasse) was the name given to the Haganah's attempt, as ordered by the official bodies of the pre-state Yishuv to suppress the Irgun's insurgency against the government of the British Mandate in Palestine, from November 1944 to February 1945.


Irgun poster on its actions to keep British forces from disturbing the Yom Kippur prayer at Western Wall

At the outbreak of World War II the Yishuv was torn between its fight against the British for free Aliyah and a Hebrew state, and the desire to join them against Nazi Germany. The Jewish Agency Chairman David Ben-Gurion called to "fight the war as if there was no White Paper and fight the White Paper as if there was no war".[1] Indeed, by 1940, the Irgun ceased its activities against the British mandatory regime and sent its men to assist the British in several missions, one of which, in May 1941, resulted in the death of its commander, David Raziel, in Iraq.

In 1943, as the tide was shifting in favor of the Allies, the Agency decided to assist the British in any possible way, hoping to gain political benefits after the war. The Irgun and Lehi opposed the decision, which resulted in a heated confrontation.[2]

In February 1944, the Irgun and Lehi began an insurrection against the British, and Irgun commander Revolt" against the British Mandate, stating that the British had betrayed the Yishuv's trust and that denial of Jewish immigration was a crime. Therefore, Irgun announced its intention to fight the British in order to drive them out of the Land of Israel. Ben Gurion and the Agency objected and started a public struggle to force the Irgun and Lehi to cease such activities.

Between February and November 1944 the parties negotiated but to no avail. Despite Begin informing Eliyahu Golomb in October that "We have no intention of seizing power in the Yishuv. We have said this on many occasions. We have no such ambitions... we think that Ben-Gurion is the man who can lead our youth into battle today", the Jewish Agency's leadership regarded the issue as an important power struggle and the Haganah forces started preparing for a possible armed conflict.

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