Stern Gang (Lehi)

A militant group that broke away from the Irgun, an underground Zionist paramilitary group, in 1940. (The label “Lehi” is the abbreviation of Lohamei Herut Israel, which translates as “Fighters for the Freedom of Israel.” Because the group was founded by Avraham Stern, it is also known as the “Stern Gang.”) The Lehi targeted Palestinian communities and British Mandate forces and was regarded as a terrorist organization. It was responsible for notorious acts of terrorism, including the assassinations of Lord Moyne, minister of state for the colonies, in 1944, and Folke Bernadotte, the Swedish UN mediator, in 1948. It also attacked railways, airfields, and strategic installations. During the 1948 War, the Lehi joined forces and command structure with the Haganah and committed several offensives and atrocities, among them the Deir Yasin massacre of April 9, 1948, during which more than 100 Palestinian noncombatants were killed. (News of this massacre contributed to the flight of Palestinian families to neighboring countries for safety; their wartime exodus turned out to be permanent.) The Lehi was later disbanded and some of its units merged into the Israeli army in September 1948. Yitzhak Shamir, a Lehi leader, later became prime minister of Israel.