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NILI - (Hebrew initials for Netzah Yisrael Lo Yishaker - "The eternal one of Israel will not be false"). A small Jewish underground organization in Palestine during the First World War led by Aaron Aaronsohn  and Avshalom Feinberg, which helped the British Army liberate Palestine from the Turks. Aaronsohn contacted the British, and his sister, Sarah Aaronsohn   and others relayed information to British ships stationed off shore.  While on their way to the British in Cairo, Feinberg and Joseph Lishansky were killed by Bedouins near El Arish in 1917, and Feinberg was killed. In September 1917, the Turks intercepted a NILI  carrier pigeon, leading to an arrest. In early October, the Turks arrested Sarah Aaronsohn. They tortured her in her home, but she refused to give up secrets. She asked to be excused to the toilet, where a revolver was hidden, and killed herself. NILI members Joseph Lishansky and Na'aman Belkind were executed by the Ottomans on December 16, 1917. Aaron Aaronsohn  had left Palestine and was able to give the British important information about the location of water sources in the Negev. This allowed General Allenby to break out of Gaza, where his forces were facing strong Turkish opposition to the north, and march through the desert to surprise the Ottoman garrison in Beersheba.

The heads of the Yishuv (Jewish community) opposed the NILI operations because they endangered the entire Yishuv (Jewish settlement in Palestine), but with the success of the British, the NILI members were forgiven. Aaronsohn died in an air accident that many suspect was arranged by the British. Feinberg's fate remained a mystery until 1967, when Israel conquered Gaza and his burial place was found.


Synonyms and alternate spellings:

Further Information: 

Hebrew/Arabic pronunciation and transliteration conventions:

'H - ('het) a guttural sound made deep in the throat. To Western ears it may sound like the "ch" in loch. In Arabic there are several letters that have similar sounds. Examples: 'hanukah, 'hamas, 'haredi. Formerly, this sound was often represented by ch, especially in German transliterations of Hebrew. Thus, 'hanukah is often rendered as Chanuka for example.

ch - (chaf) a sound like "ch" in loch or the Russian Kh as in Khruschev or German Ach, made by putting the tongue against the roof of the mouth. In Hebrew, a chaf can never occur at the beginning of a word. At the beginning of a word, it has a dot in it and is pronounced "Kaf."

u - usually between oo as in spoon and u as in put.

a- sounded like a in arm

ah- used to represent an a sound made by the letter hey at the end of a word. It is the same sound as a. Haganah and Hagana are alternative acceptable transliterations.

'a-notation used for Hebrew and Arabic ayin, a guttural ah sound.

o - close to the French o as in homme.

th - (taf without a dot) - Th was formerly used to transliterate the Hebrew taf sound for taf without a dot. However in modern Hebrew there is no detectable difference in standard pronunciation of taf with or without a dot, and therefore Histadruth and Histadrut, Rehovoth and Rehovot are all acceptable.

q- (quf) - In transliteration of Hebrew and Arabic, it is best to consistently use the letter q for the quf, to avoid confusion with similar sounding words that might be spelled with a kaf, which should be transliterated as K. Thus, Hatiqva is preferable to Hatikva for example.

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