Carrying weapons purchased by Etzel (the Irgun, headed by Menachem Begin), a Jewish para-military force in Palestine and not under the command of the newly formed Israel Defense Force, the ship Altalana reaches the Palestine coast during the first truce in the Independence War. An agreement is made with Etzel that the arms are to be transferred to the IDF, but Etzel leaders decide to keep the weapons in their own facilities. Ben-Gurion considers the move a challenge to the new state’s authority. When the ship finally lands at a Tel Aviv beach, Ben-Gurion orders the ship seized. When it is fired upon, the Altalana cataches fire. More than a dozen Etzel and IDF forces are killed and wounded in the clash. Ben-Gurion maintains that Jews attacking Jews is necessary to impose one authority over the state, and end the idea of multiple allegiances that are part of the pre-state period. The Etzel forces are almost immediately disbanded. In Israeli history, the Atlelena Affair is viewed as recognition that the new state, then under tremendous military duress, can not afford a potentially catastrophic civil war.
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