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The Irgun (Hebrew: אִרְגּוּן; full title: הָאִרְגּוּן הַצְּבָאִי הַלְּאֻמִּי בְאֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל Ha-Irgun Ha-Tzvai Ha-Leumi be-Eretz Yisrael, lit. "The National Military Organization in the Land of Israel"), was a Zionist paramilitary group that operated in Mandate Palestine between 1931 and 1948. It was an offshoot of the older and larger Jewish paramilitary organization Haganah (Hebrew: "Defense", הגנה).
When the group broke from the Haganah it became known as the Haganah Bet (Hebrew: literally "Defense 'B' " or "Second Defense", הגנה ב), or alternatively as haHaganah haLeumit (ההגנה הלאומית) or Ha'ma'amad (המעמד). Irgun members were absorbed into the Israel Defense Forces at the start of the 1948 Arab–Israeli war.
The Irgun is also referred to as Etzel (אצ"ל), an acronym of the Hebrew initials, or by the abbreviation IZL. The Irgun policy was based on what was then called Revisionist Zionism founded by Ze'ev Jabotinsky. According to Howard Sachar, "The policy of the new organization was based squarely on Jabotinsky's teachings: every Jew had the right to enter Palestine; only active retaliation would deter the Arabs; only Jewish armed force would ensure the Jewish state". Two of the operations for which the Irgun is best known are the bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem on 22 July 1946 and the Deir Yassin massacre, carried out together with Lehi on 9 April 1948.
The Irgun has been viewed as a terrorist organization or organization which carried out terrorist acts. In particular the Irgun was branded a terrorist organisation by Britain, the 1946 Zionist Congress and the Jewish Agency. The Irgun believed that any means necessary to establish the Jewish State of Israel, including terrorism, was justifiable.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu provoked controversy on Wednesday, hours before a visit to Germany, by saying the former Muslim elder in Jerusalem convinced Adolf Hitler to exterminate the Jews.
In a speech to the Zionist Congress late on Tuesday, Netanyahu referred to a series of attacks by Muslims against Jews in Palestine during the 1920s that he said were instigated by the then Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini.
Husseini famously flew to visit Hitler in Berlin in 1941, and Netanyahu said that meeting was instrumental in the Nazi leader's decision to launch a campaign to annihilate the Jews.
"Hitler didn't want to exterminate the Jews at the time, he wanted to expel the Jews," Netanyahu said in the speech. "And Haj Amin al-Husseini went to Hitler and said, 'If you expel them, they'll all come here.'
"'So what should I do with them?'" Netanyahu said Hitler asked the mufti, who responded: "Burn them."