Nili: acronym for "Netzach Israel Lo Yishaker" The Eternity of Israel will not deceive (Samuel I, 15:29)
Dreamers and warriors, bearers of the rebellion against the Ottoman Empire.
The underground Nili network was established in 1915 and operated in Eretz Israel during WWI. Its objectives were:
- To assist the British effort to conquer Eretz Israel by gathering information.
- To support the Jewish Yishuv in Eretz Israel in a time of famine and disease.
- To draw world attention to what was happening in Eretz Israel.
- To fulfill the dream of establishing a Jewish State in Eretz Israel.
Nili was founded and led by agronomist Aaron Aaronsohn from Zikhron Ya'akov, joined by his sister Sarah and brother Alexander, as well as Avshalom Feinberg from Hadera, brothers Na'aman and Eitan Belkind from Rshon Lelion, Yosef Lishansky from Metula and dozens of others.
The organization operated from Atlit where Aaron's Agricultural Experiment Station was located. British forces sailed regularly between Egypt and Atlit - the British warship Managam frequently came ashore at Atlit to collect the information gathered by Nil! members. Information was also passed on via homing pigeon.
In the spring of 1917 rumors about the espionage organization circulated around the Yishuv. A number of events led to the exposure of the organization in September 1917: a British coin was found in the market in Ramleh, a homing pigeon failed to complete its mission and landed in the governor's yard in Caesarea and Na'aman Belkind was arrested by Turkish authorities.
Following these events, the Turks began a campaign of threats and terror against the Jewish Yishuv in order to apprehend Nili members. Many
were in fact caught and tortured. Sarah Aaronsohn committed suicide after undergoing severe torture. Na'aman Belkind and Yosef Lishansky were executed in Damascus.
The bravery and heroism of the men and women of Nili helped the British enter Eretz Israel arid end the Ottoman rule.