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Acronym for Plugot Mahatz, or shock troops. Serving as the commando units of the Haganah, Palmach members were recruited mainly from the agricultural settlements and city high schools. Organized in 1939, they carried out daring missions. They rescued thousands of Jews from Nazi Europe, running the British blockades of Palestine in the “death ships” of the “illegal immigration” period. During the chaotic period when the British were prepared to abandon Palestine, the Palmach guarded the settlements and highways. In the War of Independence its members bore the brunt of the Arab attack. A large proportion of them lost their lives in action. In 1949, Palmach was absorbed by the Israel Defense Forces. Many of its commanders, including Yigal Allon, Moshe Dayan, and Yitzhak Rabin, became leaders of Israel.

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