Role in WW2
Palestine Regiment and Jewish Brigade
Palestine remained under the British Mandate system during the war. During the war, it acted as a location of hostilities, as a staging area for the British and a source of troops. In July 1940, Italy began bombing Tel Aviv, Haifa and other coastal cities.
Since Nazi Germany was seen as a greater threat, David Ben-Gurion directed the Jews in Palestine to set aside their grievances against the British stemming from the 1939 White Paper restricting Jewish immigration to Palestine, stating "support the British as if there is no White Paper and oppose the White Paper as if there is no war". The Irgun also felt this way and many of its leaders were released from prison. The more radical branch of the Irgun disagreed and, on 17 July 1940, it split under the leadership of Avraham Stern and became known as "The National Military Organization in Israel" as opposed to Irgun's official name, "The National Military Organization in the Land of Israel". It would later change its name to Lehi, referred to by the British as the "Stern Gang", as a completely separated militia.
During the Syria–Lebanon Campaign starting on 8 June 1941, many volunteers from Palestine participated in the fighting, including Palmach units that had been attached to allied troops. It was during this campaign that Moshe Dayan, attached to the Australian 7th Division, lost an eye, requiring him to wear what would become his trademark eye-patch.
In order to maintain the status quo ante bellum between the Jews and the Arabs, the British instated a policy of equal recruitment from both groups to the Palestine Regiment. However, due to the events of the 1936–1939 Arab revolt in Palestine and the alliance of exiled former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Hajj Mohammad Amin al-Husayni with Adolf Hitler, only one Arab volunteered for every three Jewish volunteers. On August 6, 1942, the policy was relinquished and the regiment was formed, containing three Jewish battalions and one Arab. The regiment was assigned mostly to guard duty in Egypt and North Africa.
On 3 July 1944, Britain agreed to allow the Jews to fight against the Nazis directly and not just in a supportive role. Thus the three Jewish battalions of the Palestine Regiment together with the 200th Field Regiment were reorganized under the aegis of the Jewish Brigade, which would see action in Italy.
At the start of the war, approximately a thousand German nationals residing in Palestine known as Templers were deported by Britain to Australia, where they were held in internment camps until 1946–47. Although some had been registered members of the Nazi party and Nazi marches had taken place in their settlements, no evidence had been presented until 2007 that the majority supported Hitler. Although their property had been confiscated by the British authorities, the State of Israelchose to compensate them in 1962.