The Irgun: Bombing of the King David Hotel

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The Irgun: Bombing of the King David Hotel

Postby admin » Fri Oct 20, 2017 5:00 am

The Irgun: Bombing of the King David Hotel (July 22, 1946)
by Jewish Virtual Library
Accessed 10/19/17




The King David Hotel was the site of the British military command and the British Criminal Investigation Division (CID). The Irgun chose it as a target after British troops invaded the Jewish Agency June 29, 1946, and confiscated large quantities of documents. At about the same time, more than 2,500 Jews from all over Palestine were placed under arrest. The information about Jewish Agency operations, including intelligence activities in Arab countries, was taken to the King David Hotel.

A week later, news of a massacre of 40 Jews in a pogrom in Poland reminded the Jews of Palestine how Britain's restrictive immigration policy had condemned thousands to death.

Irgun leader Menachem Begin stressed his desire to avoid civilian casualties and said three telephone calls were placed, one to the hotel, another to the French Consulate, and a third to the Palestine Post, warning that explosives in the King David Hotel would soon be detonated.

On July 22, 1946, the calls were made. Adina Hai-Nisan said she called the hotel switchboard 30 minutes before the explosion. That call was apparently received and ignored. Begin quotes one British official who supposedly refused to evacuate the building, saying: "We don't take orders from the Jews."1 The Irgun also detonated a bomb nearby, which broke windows, but did not cause any injuries, and may have been intended to cause panic and encourage evacuation of the building. As a result, when the bombs exploded, the casualty toll was high: a total of 91 killed and 45 injured. Among the casualties were 15 Jews. Few people in the hotel proper were injured by the blast.2

the Irgun carried out a diversion bombing minutes after the bombs were planted in the King David Hotel, in which a wagon with explosives was blown outside shops next to the hotel. The CID's assessment was that this second bombing (hurt anyone) was One of the CID officers Harouvi interviewed for his book flatly blames Shaw for the death of so many, since he could have evacuated the building on time (pages 293-297).

In contrast to Arab attacks against Jews, which were widely hailed as heroic actions, the Jewish National Council denounced the bombing of the King David.3

For decades the British denied they had been warned. In 1979, however, a member of the British Parliament introduced evidence that the Irgun had indeed issued the warning. He offered the testimony of a British officer who heard other officers in the King David Hotel bar joking about a Zionist threat to the headquarters. The officer who overheard the conversation immediately left the hotel and survived.4

Citing a book by Dr. Eldad Harouvi, the Israel State Archives noted, the CID had intelligence showing the Hotel as a possible target for attack by the Irgun in December 1945 – 6 months prior to the attack. The CID asked to raise security in the hotel, including putting armed soldiers at the ‘Regence’ restaurant at the entrance of the hotel. The Chief Secretary [Sir John Shaw] refused to consider these suggestions, with the justification that there were not many places for recreation and fun in Palestine, and he did not want to foreclose another. He continued to refuse to take action (or even to pass on the information to the High Commissioner of Palestine) when the CID approached him again with newer information on the attack plan (the CID had the plan of attack, but did not know exactly when it would be carried out).5 Shaw was blamed by one former CID officer interviewed by Harouvi for the failure to evacuate the building.


Sources: Israeli Government National Photo Collection

1. Menachem Begin, The Revolt, (NY: Nash Publishing, 1977), p. 224.
2. J. Bowyer Bell, Terror Out Of Zion, (NY: St. Martin's Press), p. 172.
3. Anne Sinai and I. Robert Sinai, Israel and the Arabs: Prelude to the Jewish State, (NY: Facts on File, 1972), p. 83.
4. Benjamin Netanyahu, ed., "International Terrorism: Challenge And Response," Proceedings of the Jerusalem Conference on International Terrorism, July 2­5, 1979, (Jerusalem: The Jonathan Institute, 1980), p. 45.
5. Israel State Archives.
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Re: The Irgun: Bombing of the King David Hotel

Postby admin » Fri Oct 20, 2017 5:43 am

The Bombing of the King David Hotel



The King David Hotel in Jerusalem was built by the Moseri family, members of the wealthy and influential Jewish establishment in Cairo and Alexandria. They set up a shareholding company to finance its construction, consisting mainly of Egyptian businessmen and wealthy Jews from all over the world. The luxurious seven-storey building, with 200 rooms, was opened to the public in 1931. In 1938, the Mandatory government requisitioned the entire southern wing of the hotel, and housed the military command and the Mandatory government secretariat there. The British chose the King David for its central location and because it was easy to guard. They built a military communications center in the hotel basement and, for security reasons, added a side entrance linking the building to an army camp south of the hotel. Fewer than a third of the rooms were reserved for civilian use.

It will be recalled that after Black Sabbath (Saturday), Menahem Begin received a letter from Moshe Sneh (chief of the Haganah General Headquarters) with instructions to blow up the King David. After preparatory work and several postponements, Irgun fighters gathered at 7 am. on Monday, July 22, 1946 at the Bet Aharon Talmud Torah seminary in Jerusalem. They arrived one by one, gave the password and assembled in one of the classrooms. They realized that they were being sent on a mission, but none of them knew what the target was. Shortly afterwards, the senior command arrived and it was only when the briefing began that the assembled fighters discovered that they were going to strike at the King David Hotel.

After the weapons had been distributed, the first unit - the group of "porters" - commanded by Yosef Avni, set out. Their assignment was to reach the hotel by bus and to wait at the side entrance so as to assist in unloading the explosives from the van when it arrived. All six "porters" were disguised as Arabs so as to avoid arousing suspicion. The strike force left next in a van loaded with seven milk-churns, each containing 50 kilograms of explosives and special detonators. The commander of the operation, Yisrael Levi (Gidon), rode in the van dressed as a Sudanese waiter, while his deputy, Heinrich Reinhold (Yanai), and the other members of the unit, were dressed as Arabs. The van drove through the streets of Jerusalem, its tarpaulin cover concealing the milk-churns and the passengers, and halted at the side entrance of the hotel, through which foodstuffs were brought into the basement 'La Regence' restaurant. The fighters easily overcame the guards by the gate and hastened to the basement, where they searched all the rooms, and assembled the workers in the restaurant kitchen. They then returned to the van, brought the milk-churns into the restaurant, and placed them beside the supporting pillars . Gidon set the time fuses for 30 minutes, and ordered his men to leave. The staff gathered in the kitchen were told to leave the building 10 minutes later to avoid injury.

During the withdrawal from the basement, heavy gunfire was levelled at the group and two fighters were injured. One of them, Aharon Abramovitch, later died of his wounds.

After exiting the hotel, Gidon summoned two women fighters who were waiting nearby, and ordered them to carry out their mission. They ran over to a nearby telephone booth, and delivered the following message to the hotel telephone operator and to the editorial office of the Palestine Post:

I am speaking on behalf of the Hebrew underground.
We have placed an explosive device in the hotel.
Evacuate it at once - you have been warned.

They also delivered a telephone warning to the French Consulate, adjacent to the hotel, to open their windows to prevent blast damage. The telephone messages were intended to prevent casualties.

Some 25 minutes after the telephone calls, a shattering explosion shook Jerusalem, and reverberated at a great distance. The entire southern wing of the King David Hotel - all seven storeys - was totally destroyed. For reasons unclear, the staff of the government secretariat and the military command remained in their rooms. Some of them were unaware of events, and others were not permitted to leave the building, thus accounting for the large number of victims trapped in the debris.

King David Hotel after the explosion

For ten days, the British Engineering Corps cleared the wreckage, and on July 31 it was officially announced that 91 people had been killed in the explosion: 28 Britons, 41 Arabs, 17 Jews and 5 others.

The success of the Jewish underground in striking at the heart of British government in Palestine, and the high toll of victims, sent shock waves through England and the rest of the world. At first, the Mandatory government denied having received a telephone warning, but testimony submitted to the interrogating judge made it clear beyond a doubt that such a warning had in fact been given. Moreover, the Palestine Post telephone operator attested on oath to the police that, immediately after receiving the telephone message, she had telephoned the duty officer at the police station. The French Consulate staff opened their windows as they had been told to by the anonymous woman who telephoned them, and this was further evidence of the warning.

King David Hotel after the explosion

It is almost impossible to recapitulate what occurred in the government secretariat offices in the half hour preceding the explosion, but all the evidence suggests that there were numerous flaws in the security arrangements in the King David, and that a series of omissions occurred. The telephone warning was disregarded, and although the warning signal was given, an all-clear was sounded shortly before the explosion. These facts indicate that there were serious errors in the decision-making process and that internal communication did not function properly.

The heads of the Jewish Agency were stunned. They feared that the British would adopt even more severe retaliatory measures than on Black Sabbath, and hastened to denounce the operation in the strongest terms. The statement they issued the following day expressed "their feelings of horror at the base and unparalleled act perpetrated today by a gang of criminals." Even David Ben-Gurion, who was then in Paris, joined the chorus of condemnation, and in an interview to the French newspaper 'France Soir', declared that the Irgun was "the enemy of the Jewish people".

The denunciation by the Jewish Agency totally ignored the fact that the bombing of the King David was carried out as part of the activities of the United Resistance, and on the explicit instructions of Moshe Sneh. At the request of the Haganah, the Irgun issued a leaflet accepting responsibility for the operation. It stated, among other things:


e. The telephone warnings were given at 12:10-12:15. And if it is true, as the British liars have announced, that the explosion occurred at 12:37, they still had 22 minutes at their disposal in order to evacuate the building of its residents and workers. Therefore responsibility for loss of life among civilians rests solely with them.

f. It is not true that the persons who delivered the warning spoke 'on behalf of the United Resistance' (as the press reported)... On this matter, we are refraining at present from making any further statement, but it is possible that - in the context of the savage and dastardly incitement - it will be necessary to issue such a statement at the appropriate time.

g. We mourn the Jewish victims; they too are the tragic victims of the tragic and noble Hebrew war of liberation.


A year later the Irgun issued the following statement:



On July 1 - two days after the British raid on the National Institutions and on our towns and villages -we received a letter from the headquarters of the United Resistance, demanding that we carry out an attack on the center of government at the King David Hotel as soon as possible...

Execution of this plan was postponed several times - both for technical reasons and at the request of the United Resistance. It was finally approved on July 22...

Notwithstanding this, days later, Kol Yisrael broadcast a statement - in the name of the United Resistance - abhorring the high death toll at the King David caused by the actions of the 'dissidents'...

We have kept silent for a whole year. We have faced savage incitement, such as this country has never before known. We have withstood the worst possible provocations - and remained silent. We have witnessed evasion, hypocrisy and cowardice - and remained silent.

But today, when the United Resistance has expired and there is no hope that it will ever be revived... there are no longer valid reasons why we should maintain our silence concerning the assault against the center of Nazi-British rule - one of the mightiest attacks ever carried out by a militant underground. Now it is permissible to reveal the truth; now we must reveal the truth. Let the people see - and judge.

July 22, 1947.

The Hebrew press, and the Haganah publications, continued to condemn the Irgun in the strongest possible terms. They were echoed by the British press, which was briefed by the Mandatory government. However, the effect of the British denunciations was blunted to a large extent by the publication of instructions issued by General Sir Evelyn Barker (British army commander in Palestine) several hours after the explosion. He ordered all the Jewish places of entertainment, restaurants, shops and Jewish homes - "out of bounds for all British officers and soldiers". The instructions ended by saying that:

"The aim of these orders are to punish the Jews in a way the race dislikes as much as any, namely by striking at their pockets"

Barker's letter reached the Irgun's intelligence service and was immediately made public in Palestine and throughout the world. The antisemitic tone of the letter greatly embarrassed the British government and diverted public opinion from the attack on the King David Hotel. Questions were asked in the House of Commons about the letter and the London Daily Herald wrote, among other things, that if General Barker had in fact written the letter, he was demonstrating his unsuitability for his position.

The order was officially rescinded two weeks after it was issued, but the damage to the British cause in Palestine could not be erased.

However, as a result of Black Sabbath, the moderates now held the upper hand, and at a meeting of the Jewish Agency Executive in Paris on August 5, 1946, it was decided to terminate the armed struggle against the British in Palestine. This marked the end of the glorious ten-month period when all the Jewish forces in Eretz Israel (Haganah, Irgun and Lehi) fought together against foreign rule.

The terminating of the armed struggle provoked considerable resentment among many members of the Haganah, and Yitzhak Sadeh (commander of the Palmach) gave vent to this emotion in his article "Proposal and Response" in Ahdut Ha'avoda, October 15, 1946 which he signed Noded (Wanderer).

There will be no capitulation, because there is nobody to order capitulation, and should such a person be found, he would find nobody to carry out the order.

The Haganah focused its efforts on bringing in illegal immigrants, and in order to appease those activists in the Haganah ranks who continued to favor armed struggle, it sanctioned the sabotaging of British naval vessels which were hunting down illegal immigrants. Thus, on August 18, 1946, Palmach fighters sabotaged the Empire Haywood and two days later damaged the Empire Rival, the two ships used for deporting immigrants from Haifa to Cyprus.

When the United Resistance ceased to exist, the Irgun and Lehi continued the armed struggle alone. The Irgun was now both morally and materially stronger than ever before. Support for its cause had grown, since the United Resistance had legitimized its activities. The number of recruits increased, and its stock of weapons and ammunition was expanded as a result of its acquisitions from British army depots. Free of the restrictions imposed by the Haganah command, the Irgun now intensified its anti-British activities.

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Re: The Irgun: Bombing of the King David Hotel

Postby admin » Fri Oct 20, 2017 6:23 am

The Raid on the Jerusalem Railway Station



When the decision was taken to attack the railway station in Jerusalem, Heinrich Reinhold (Yanai) was appointed commander of the operation. On October 29, a day before the assault, Yitzhak Avinoam, Jerusalem district commander, and Amichai Paglin (Gidi), chief operations officer, came to Yanai's apartment in the Rehavia quarter of Jerusalem. There was a curfew in Jerusalem that evening, but Rehavia was one of several quarters outside the curfew area. They wanted to find out why Yanai had not arrived at that evening's scheduled meeting. They went up to the second floor apartment, where the door was opened by the landlady. Avinoam told her that they had come to visit Yanai, and they were surprised to hear that he was not at home. Their first thought was that he had been kidnapped by the Haganah, or possibly arrested by the British. In either event, he was liable to be interrogated and Avinoam decided to take precautionary measures in case Yanai broke down under interrogation and revealed the plan for the raid on the railway station. It was also essential to replace him as commander of the operation.

Yitzhak Avinoam

The following day, October 30, Avinoam and Gidi went to the room in the Sukat Shalom quarter from which the fighters set out on missions. At 7 am, they arrived one by one. Among them was Eliyahu Levi (Aviel), one of the senior commanders in Jerusalem, who had been privy to the preparations and knew all the details of the plan. Aviel had been appointed as Yanai's replacement, but it was decided to postpone the operation and to check on the situation in the target area.

At 10 am, Salomon, the signals officer, was sent to the station area on a tour of reconnaissance. He set out on his motorbike and returned soon after to announce that he had seen nothing suspicious. An hour later he was sent on an additional tour and, on his return, informed Avinoam again that nothing appeared suspicious.

He was sent out later for the third time. On his return, he encountered Aviel, who was seated with his unit, in two taxis, awaiting the signal to depart.

"What's going on?" asked Aviel.

"Everything's OK" replied Salomon.

Salomon had not yet had time to report to Avinoam on his reconnaissance tour. Aviel gave the signal and the force set out in two taxis (which had been requisitioned that morning in Jerusalem). Seated in the first taxi were Yosef Levi (Kushi) and Mas'ud Biton, disguised as Arab porters.

Meir Feinstein

In the second vehicle Sima Fleishhaker-Hoizman, dressed elegantly, sat beside Eliyahu Levi (Aviel), also in formal dress. They were posing as a young couple setting out on their honeymoon. With them were three guards, and at the wheel was Meir Feinstein. In the trunk of the car were three suitcases filled with explosives and detonators.

When the second taxi reached the railway station, the two "porters" came over to assist their "clients". Sima and Aviel emerged from the taxi, whilst all the Arab porters at the station offered their services. Aviel chose Kushi and Biton (to the annoyance of the real porters), who unloaded the suitcases from the taxi and put them down in the waiting room beside the ticket office. Aviel set the fuse connected to the devices, and Sima went over to the ticket office to buy tickets. No-one seemed suspicious at this point. After purchasing the tickets, Sima took a large cloth sign out of her handbag and placed it on top of the cases. On it, in three languages (Hebrew, English and Arabic), was written:

"Danger, mines"

and the Irgun symbol. An Arab policeman who was standing nearby went over to Sima, gripped her by the dress and asked: "What's this?" Sima hit him in the face and freed herself. One of the Irgun security men saw what had happened, aimed his sub-machinegun at the policeman and shot him. The fighters ran towards the two taxis waiting at the entrance to the station and jumped in. Suddenly the cars came under fire from all sides. Feinstein, who was in the driver's seat, was severely wounded in the left arm, but managed to drive with one hand. Sima, seated beside him, tore his shirt and bandaged his wounded arm. The heavy fire continued, and in addition to Feinstein, Azulai was hit in the stomach and leg, and Horovitz in the neck. Feinstein continued to drive rapidly and succeeded in shaking off the British armored car. The car halted at the entrance to the Yemin Moshe quarter of Jerusalem, where several Irgun girls were waiting to collect the weapons. Sima accompanied Feinstein to Yemin Moshe, where they found refuge in an apartment belonging to an old couple. Sima laid the wounded man on a bed, untied the temporary bandage and placed a tourniquet on the wounded arm. While she was treating Feinstein, a 14-year-old boy entered the room and told her that the police had arrived in the quarter, and were tracking the blood stains. Sima asked him to camouflage the stains with soil, while she herself went out to see what was happening. She discovered that the police had reached the house where Feinstein was hiding, and feared that they would arrest her as well. She bent over as if to tie her shoelace, thus hiding her dress, which had been torn in the struggle with the Arab policeman. Then she slipped away and fled Yemin Moshe.

Azulai, wounded in the stomach and leg, was also taken to a house in Yemin Moshe, where his wounds were bandaged. Shortly afterwards, the entire area was surrounded by police reinforcements and placed under curfew. All the men were asked to come outside and report for an identity parade. The two wounded men were apprehended and taken, under guard, to the government hospital.

Horovitz and Biton were arrested by Arab Legion soldiers, as they walked towards Jerusalem's commercial center and were handed over to the British police.

At 2 pm. large numbers of policemen reached the railway station. When the police sapper tried to lift one of the suitcases, there was an explosion which destroyed the interior of the building and killed him.

Jerusalem Railway Station after the explosion

Avinoam was waiting in one of the Irgun's safe houses when he received word of the ambush which the British had prepared for the fighters, and learned of the casualties and arrests. While he was absorbing this information, he was informed that the police had seized an arms cache at Givat Shaul. Avinoam recalled that the location of the arms cache at Givat Shaul had been known to Yanai. He approached Adina Hai (the district liaison officer) and asked her to go immediately to Tel Aviv with a note for headquarters. It consisted of only two words:

"Yanai sarakh"
(Yanai has betrayed us)

Information flooded in, all of it connected to Yanai. The police had raided several rooms in Jerusalem, all known to Yanai. The vehicle used by the district command, which had been kept in a parking lot near the Strauss clinic (a fact known to Yanai), was seized by the British. In Tel Aviv and Haifa, the police arrested several commanders, who were hiding in safe houses, whose location was also known to Yanai.

Yanai's treachery stunned and angered the Irgun. It was the first (and only) time that a senior commander had abandoned his men before they set out on a combat mission, and the question as to why he acted as he did remained unanswered for many years.

A British Intelligence document released for publication thirty years after the operation (Haganah archives 31/74) revealed that Yanai was arrested by the British Intelligence, broke down during interrogation, and in order to save his life, decided to collaborate with the British. He told them everything he knew about the Irgun, including the planned assault on the Jerusalem railway station, and was immediately flown to Belgium by the British.

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Re: The Irgun: Bombing of the King David Hotel

Postby admin » Fri Oct 20, 2017 6:39 am

The Raid on the Jerusalem Officers Club



On January 31, 1947, Kol Yerushalayim (The Voice of Jerusalem) broadcast a Mandatory government announcement to the effect that, as a consequence of the recent disturbances in Palestine, it had been decided that British women and children and other British nationals whose presence in Palestine was not essential, would be evacuated. Soon after, some 1,500 men, women and children were evacuated by train to Egypt and transported from there by sea to England.

In addition to evacuating women and children, the British army began constructing 'security zones' in the three large cities. In Jerusalem itself, four such zones were set up and the atmosphere in the city changed drastically. The central 'security zone' was set up near the Russian Compound. Local nationals, most of them Jews, were ordered to abandon their shops and offices, without being offered alternative places by the authorities. The entire area, which included the Generali building, the Anglo-Palestine Bank building and the central post office, was cordoned off by barbed wire fences and entrance was by identity card only. The police often conducted body searches of citizens who wanted to enter the fenced area. The area opposite the Yeshurun synagogue was also cordoned off, and became a 'security zone', which included the officers club in Goldschmidt House and the adjacent military depot. Additional security zones were located in the Talbieh quarter, in parts of Rehavia and the Schneller camp.

The Security Zone in Jerusalem ("Bevingrad")

The security zones (or 'Bevingrads', as the local population called them) soon became 'internment camps' for British soldiers and policemen, who were permitted to leave only when on duty. Places of entertainment (which were all outside the security zones) were now 'out of bounds' to the British, and contact with the civilian population gradually dwindled.

A poster published by the Irgun

The atmosphere in the Yishuv was increasingly anti-British. This was largely due to the attitude of the British authorities towards the Jewish population, and their brutal treatment of the immigrants brought from Europe by the Haganah. In that period, the Haganah stepped up its activities, and the number of illegal immigrant vessels was increased. However, in most cases the ships did not succeed in breaking the British naval blockade on Eretz Israel, and the immigrants were intercepted, and taken aboard British vessels, which conveyed them to internment camps in Cyprus. Those immigrants who resisted were taken by force and many of them were injured in the struggles. This brutal treatment of defenceless people, who had come from the European graveyard to seek refuge in Eretz Israel, aroused a storm of protest in Palestine and throughout the world.

The Irgun was not slow to react, and the underground struck even more heavily at the British. Military targets were attacked throughout the country, and in Jerusalem plans were completed for an assault on the Officers' Club at Goldschmidt House on King George Street.

On Saturday, March 1, 1947, some 15 members of the Jerusalem Fighting Force assembled at the Alliance girls' school. The school janitor, who was collaborating with the underground, left the gate open and made all necessary arrangements so that the Irgun fighters could hold their meeting uninterrupted. The attack had been scheduled for Saturday, at a time when the streets would be empty, in order to avoid civilian casualties. After the briefing, the fighters were given weapons and the combat unit received British army uniforms as a disguise.

After the preparations were completed, the convoy set out, headed by a taxi with three fighters. It was followed by a van carrying the five-man combat unit, headed by Dov Salomon (Yishai). It had been agreed in advance that if the road was open, the taxi would halt briefly, and this would be the signal to start the operation. If, however, the taxi drove on without halting, this would mean that the road to the Officers' Club was not clear. When the taxi reached the location, several army trucks were parked outside the club, and it drove on without stopping, followed by the van. The combat unit was forced to circle the area three times. Finally Yitzhak Avinoam (the District Commander, who was waiting nearby) gave the order to attack. One unit took up position beside the Yeshurun synagogue, opposite the Officers' Club, and aimed a Bren gun at the neighboring building to prevent the British soldiers stationed there from disrupting the operation. An additional unit took up position on King George Street with the task of maintaining a fusillade which would prevent passage of vehicles.

The van drove rapidly, broke through the barbed wire which surrounded Goldschmidt House and halted in the courtyard close to the entrance. The guards went over to the car and asked for an entry permit. In response, the fighters opened fire and all the units went into action.

The three sappers entered the building under cover of the gunfire, carrying with them three rucksacks containing 30 kilograms of explosives each. Salomon placed the rucksacks beside the building's supporting pillars, and after igniting the fuse, gave the order to retreat. The sappers ran towards the door, but one of them suddenly remembered he had left his revolver on the rucksack and started back to fetch it. His comrade pulled him by the sleeve, and together they managed to exit the building in time. They continued to run towards the Ratisbonne monastery (which lies behind the Yeshurun synagogue), and slipped through an opening in the fence which had been prepared in advance. In the Ratisbonne courtyard the weapons were thrown into a sack brought by the Irgun girls, and the fighters took off the British uniforms. They made for the Nahlaot quarters where they dispersed. At 3:30 PM, there was a loud blown up, and the Goldschmidt House collapsed.

The British Officers' Club in Jerusalem

Seventeen British officers were killed in the explosion - among them several senior intelligence officers - and 27 injured.

The reaction in Britain was reported by the Haaretz correspondent in London:


The attack in Jerusalem came as a shock to London at the weekend. The evening papers produced special editions with banner headlines as each new item of information was received. The attack reminds everyone of the King David affair. The press stresses that this is the first time the terrorists have perpetrated an attack on a Saturday, and emphasize that it took place inside the security zone.

The 'Sunday Express' printed a banner headline:

"Govern or Get out".

The blowing up of the Officers Club in Jerusalem was the culmination of a series of attacks on British targets all over the country. A number of military vehicles were mined on interurban roads; army depots at Hadera, Pardes Hanna and Beit Lyd came under mortar and machine-gun fire; and in Haifa, an army vehicle lot was attacked and 15 vehicles were destroyed. In the course of these operations, dozens of British soldiers were killed and injured.


The reaction to the March 1 operations was swift. The same evening, Kol Yerushalayim (The voice of Jerusalem) broadcast an official announcement, stating that the High Commissioner had decided to impose martial law on the Jewish quarters of northern Jerusalem and on the districts of Tel Aviv, Ramat Gan, Bnei Barak and Petah Tikva. In Jerusalem, the operation was code-named 'Hippo' and in Tel Aviv 'Elephant'. The operation had been planned meticulously several months before, and the High Commissioner had been empowered to put it into effect at his discretion. More than 20,000 British troops took part.

The introduction of martial law came as no surprise; the High Commissioner had told the leaders of the Yishuv several times that if they did not resume full collaboration with the authorities in the fight against the underground organizations (as they had done during the Season), he would introduce draconian restrictions, and even proclaim martial law in Jewish areas. Although the heads of the Jewish Agency feared the destruction of the Zionist endeavor in Eretz Israel, they did not accede to the High Commissioner's demand. Betrayal of Irgun fighters to the British was now carried out on a more limited basis, subject to the decision of the highest echelons of the Jewish Agency.

Under martial law, all the powers of civilian government were transferred to the military. Civilian courts were replaced by military tribunals, empowered to hold rapid trials; post offices were closed and public and private transport immobilized. Use of telephones was restricted, and special permission was required for opening banks. Soldiers were granted policing powers, and were authorized to arrest suspicious individuals, and to shoot curfew breakers. Indeed, immediately after martial law was proclaimed, two Jews were shot and killed, one of them a four-year-old girl standing on the balcony of her home in the Mea Shearim quarter. The entire zone was closed to traffic and special permits were required for entry or exit.

The British set themselves two objectives in proclaiming martial law: firstly, to bring underground activity to a halt, since they believed that it was focused in the closed areas, and secondly, to undermine the economy of the Yishuv and thereby force the leaders of the Jewish Agency to resume their cooperation with the British against the Irgun and Lehi.

It was soon manifest that the population was adjusting rapidly to the new situation. Improvisation skills were brought into full play; in the absence of buses, horse-drawn carts carried passengers to their destinations. Many people rode bicycles, while others simply walked. As time passed, the British were forced to permit the supply of foodstuffs to the areas under siege, and the number of transit permits was extended. From time to time, the curfew was lifted in the areas under martial law, and the population was permitted to purchase food. At these times, crowds assembled on both sides of the barbed wire, and soldiers helped to pass parcels from one side to the other. Yosef Avni, who was in charge of the Irgun's arsenals in Jerusalem, relates that in order to prepare the attack on the Schneller camp, it was necessary to bring weapons out of the closed area. He instructed the storeman to load grenades and revolvers into a sack. One of the soldiers on guard then helped lift the sack over the barbed wire fence and handed it to Avni, who was waiting on the other side.

The Irgun General Headquarters decided to step up onslaughts against the centers of British government. All district commanders were ordered to take action within their areas of jurisdiction without awaiting special permission from the General Headquarters. In the first week of martial law, various targets were attacked outside the closed areas; mines were laid daily on interurban roads to damage military vehicles; army depots came under mortar and rifle fire. In the second week, the Irgun and Lehi began to raid military targets inside the closed areas. The Lehi attacked Hadar House in Tel Aviv (one of the headquarters of the British forces), and the mobile police camp at Sarona. The strikes against military transport continued and the British-Iraqi petroleum pipeline was blown up.


The Irgun's military activity during the period of martial law culminated in the attack on Schneller camp in Jerusalem.

The Schneller Syrian Orphanage was founded in 1860 by Father Johannes Ludwig Schneller, who came to Jerusalem from Germany as a Protestant missionary. At first, the institution took in children orphaned by the Druze massacre of Christians in Lebanon and Syria. In time, the compound grew and was walled in, and after the Second World War it became a closed army camp.

Schneller camp was located in the area under martial law. The camp was, in fact, at the heart of one of the security zones, and its surrounding wall had firing positions at its corners. All access roads to the camp were surrounded by barbed wire fences, and a large number of troops guarded the entire area.

On the evening of Wednesday, March 12, members of the Fighting Force assembled at an apartment in Haturim Street, which had been placed at the disposal of the underground. Yehoshua Goldschmid (Gal), who was commanding the operation, briefed them, and the fighters split up into four squads. Two-man squads were ordered to set up road-blocks; they placed barrels in the middle of the road, with a notice on each in Hebrew and English:

'Beware, mines!'

Because of the shortage of explosives, not all the barrels were full. It was assumed that the warning notices alone would deter the British troops from taking unnecessary risks. In fact, the gamble succeeded and they did not dare risk shifting the barrels. Having completed their task, the two squads rapidly left the scene.

A third squad, under Gal, was assigned to security. The squad took up positions in a building which overlooked the entrance to Schneller camp, with the task of preventing soldiers from coming out of the camp by firing automatic weapons at the gate.

The fourth squad, under Yosef Avni, consisted of five fighters, each carrying a rucksack containing 30 kilograms of explosives. Under cover of darkness, they reached the stone wall surrounding Schneller camp and hid behind a nearby fence. They then broke through the camp wall, and crawled through the opening into the camp. After breaking into the first building under cover of tommy-gun fire, Avni lit the fuses of the mines and retreated. While he was crawling back, there was a loud explosion. The blast hurled him against the wall, stunning him momentarily. As soon as he reached the rest of the unit, the group withdrew to the area outside martial law, hid their weapons and dispersed to their homes.

The Attack on Schneller Camp

One British soldier was killed in the attack and eight were wounded, three seriously.

The incident was reported in Ha'aretz :


After the explosions, warning sirens went off in Jerusalem and there was a volley of gunfire. Almost all the soldiers in the military zone fired repeatedly. There was considerable confusion and the shooting was random. While this was going on, the attackers slipped away. The firing continued for more than half an hour. There was no loss of life in the civilian population inside the military zone.

The explosion in Schneller camp made a strong impression on the local and world press, and severely undermined the prestige of the British administration. It offered resounding proof that the British were unable to check the Jewish underground, which was operating in small units and effectively exploiting the element of surprise.

On the night of the Irgun raid on Schneller, several additional targets came under attack throughout the country: an army camp near Karkur was raided, shots were fired at the Sarona camp and a landmine exploded near Rishon Lezion.

A poster published by the Irgun

Martial law, which lasted 16 days, was revoked on March 17 (four days after the attack on Schneller). In all, 78 persons 'suspected of membership of terror organizations' were arrested throughout the country - a tiny number in view of the scope of the operation. Martial law was a total failure; the British did not succeed in suppressing the underground organizations. The Government Information Service announced that during the period of martial law, 68 'terrorist acts' had been committed, 4 per day on average.

The leaders of the Jewish Agency did not revert to widescale informing on Irgun and Lehi fighters. The threat which had hovered over the Yishuv for so long had now receded. The most drastic weapon the British could wield had proven ineffective, since the Yishuv had easily adapted itself to the new situation. The underground movements emerged from the crisis stronger than before and with enhanced prestige.

The attack on the British Officers' Club and the debacle of martial law motivated the opposition in Great Britain, under Winston Churchill, to re-double its denunciations of government policy. In one of his speeches, Churchill declared:

How long does the Secretary of State for Colonies expect that this state of squalid warfare will go on, at a cost of 30 or 40 million pounds a year, keeping 100,000 Englishmen away with the military force?

The Sunday Express wrote that:

the Palestine problem has to be solved and solved at once. British lives are being sacrificed with no objective, and terror was undermining British prestige throughout the world.

As a result of underground activities in Palestine, His Majesty's Government was forced to bring forward the debate on Palestine at the United Nations. A special session of the UN was scheduled for April 28, 1947, instead of the later original date, in September.

A poster published by the Irgun
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Re: The Irgun: Bombing of the King David Hotel

Postby admin » Fri Oct 20, 2017 7:01 am

The Acre Prison Break



Acre was conquered by the Ottomans at the beginning of the 16th century. The governor of Galilee, Ahmed al-Jazzar, developed the town, building a fortress and markets and turning it into the 'main gateway' to Eretz Israel (Palestine). Under the British Mandate, the fortress served as a jail, where underground fighters were imprisoned and where eight Irgun fighters went to the gallows. Acre prison was the most highly-guarded fortress in the country; surrounded by walls and encircled to the east and north by a deep moat; the sea to the west. It was located in the heart of an Arab town with no Jewish inhabitants.

Acre Prison

Eitan Livni

Despite these factors, the underground never ceased to plan their escape. The turning point came when an Arab inmate, in charge of supplying oil to the kitchen, related that while working in the oil storeroom (in the south wall of the fortress), he had heard women's voices. This was reported to Eitan Livni, the most senior Irgun prisoner, who deduced that the south wall of the prison bordered on a street or alley in the Old City. The information was conveyed by underground post to the Irgun General Headquarters, with a proposal that the wall of the oil storehouse be exploited for a break-in to rescue the Irgun inmates.

Amichai Paglin (Gidi), chief operations officer, toured Acre disguised as an Arab, and after thorough scrutiny of the area, concluded that a break-in was indeed possible. After discussions at headquarters, Livni received a letter stating that it was possible to breach the wall from outside, but that the success of the operation depended on the ability of the prisoners to reach the south wall on their own. To that end, explosives, detonators and a fuse were smuggled into the jail by the parents of prisoners, who were permitted to bring their sons delicacies, such as jam, oil, and fruit. The explosives were smuggled in inside a can, under a thick layer of jam. A British sergeant opened the can and examined its contents. When he poked inside, he felt hard lumps (in fact gelignite), but accepted the story that the jam had not gelled properly. The detonators and the fuse were concealed in the false bottom of a container of oil, which was also thoroughly examined. The sergeant poked in a long stick to examine the level of the oil, but since the fuse and the detonators were less than one centimeter thick, he did not notice the false bottom.

At that time, 163 Jews were being held in Acre prison (60 of them Irgun members, 22 Lehi and 5 Haganah, the remainder felons) and 400 Arabs. The Irgun General Headquarters decided that only 41 could be freed (30 Irgun members and 11 Lehi members) because it was technically impossible to find hiding places for a larger number of fugitives. Eitan Livni was given the task of deciding who was to be freed and who would remain in jail (the Lehi prisoners chose their own candidates for escape).

Dov Cohen (Shimshon)

The break-in was planned for Sunday, May 4, 1947 at 4 pm. The day before, the fighters met at a diamond factory in Netanya. A map was pinned up and the briefing began. The first speaker was Amichai Paglin, who explained the plan in detail. He was followed by Dov Cohen (Shimshon), who had been appointed commander of the operation. He revealed that the fighters would be disguised as British soldiers and instructed them to conduct themselves in Acre like 'His Majesty's troops'.

Irgun Fighters in British Uniform

After the fighters had been assigned to their units, they were all given an 'English' haircut. The next day, they were taken to Shuni, a former Crusader fortress (between Binyamina and Zichron Yaakov), then serving as a settlement for the Irgun supporters. Twenty of them wore British Engineering Corps uniforms, while three were dressed as Arabs. After they had been briefed and armed, they set out in a convoy of vehicles including a 3-ton military truck, two military vans with British camouflage colors, and two civilian vans. The convoy was headed by the command jeep, and Shimshon, dressed as a be-medalled British captain, sat beside the driver.

When the convoy reached Acre, the two military vans entered the market, while the truck waited at the gate. Ladders were removed from one of the vehicles and the 'engineering unit' went into the Turkish bath-house in order to 'mend' the telephone lines. They climbed the ladders to the roof adjacent to the fortress wall, and Dov Salomon, the unit commander, helped his deputy, Yehuda Apiryon, to haul up the explosive charges and to hook them to the windows of the prison.

Avshalom Haviv

At the same time, the two blocking squads had scattered mines along the routes leading to the site of the break-in. One three-man squad was commanded by Avshalom Haviv and the second consisted of two fighters, Michaeli and Ostrowicz.

An additional three-man squad, disguised as Arabs, was positioned north of Acre, and when the operation began they fired a mortar at the nearby army camp. The command jeep halted at the gas station at the entrance to the new town, laid anti-vehicle mines and set fire to the station.

Afternoon walk of Acre prisoners

While these units were taking up positions outside the fortress, the plan was being put into effect inside the prison. At 3pm, the doors of the cells were opened for afternoon exercise. Those prisoners who were not scheduled to escape went down to the courtyard to create a diversion, while the escapees remained in their cells. They were divided into three groups, each in a separate cell.

At 4:22 pm. a loud explosion shook the entire area, as the wall of the fortress was blasted open.

Acre prison's wall after the blowing up

The first group of escapees leapt out of their cell and ran down the corridor towards the breach in the wall. They had to push their way through a crowd of Arab prisoners who ran out of their cells in panic and blocked their path. The first escapee, Michael Ashbel, attached explosive charges to the locks barring the gate of the corridor, and lit the fuse. There was an explosion, and the gate blew open. The second gate was blown open in the same way, opening the route to freedom. At that moment, the second group went into action; they created an obstruction by igniting kerosene mixed with oil. The ensuing fire blocked the escape route, so that the guards could not reach it. The third group threw grenades at the guards on the roof, who fled. In the confusion created by the explosion, the gunfire and the fire, 41 prisoners made their way to freedom.

The first group of escapees boarded a van and drove off, but the driver mistakenly drove towards Haifa, instead of Mount Napoleon. On the shore, a group of British soldiers who had been bathing in the sea opened fire on them. The driver tried to turn back, but hit the wall of the cemetery and the van overturned. The escapees ran towards a gas station, the soldiers pursuing them. Dov Cohen fired his Bren at them, but was mowed down by a volley of 17 bullets. Zalman Lifshitz, at his side, was also killed. When the firing stopped, five of the first group of 13 escapees were dead, six injured and only two were unscathed. The survivors were returned to jail.

Yaakov Weiss

The blocking unit, consisting of Avshalom Haviv, Meir Nakar and Yaakov Weiss, also suffered a mishap. They did not hear the bugle signal to withdraw and stayed put when the other units had already left Acre. After a protracted battle with British soldiers, they were caught and arrested. The second blocking unit, consisting of Amnon Michaeli and Menahem Ostrowicz, also failed to hear the bugle (which signalled withdrawal) and were likewise caught by the British.

The remaining escapees and members of the strike force in the truck and the second van escaped safely. They reached Kibbutz Dalia, abandoned their vehicles, and made their way on foot to Binyamina. There they were given refuge in the Nahlat Jabotinsky quarter and the following morning were dispersed throughout the country to pre-designated hiding places.

Haim Appelbaum of Lehi, wounded during the retreat, succeeded in boarding the last van, but died soon after. His body was left in the vehicle, and members of Kibbutz Dalia conveyed it to the burial society in Haifa the following day.

To conclude, 27 inmates succeeded in escaping (20 from the Irgun and seven from Lehi). Nine fighters were killed in clashes with the British army; six escapees and three members of the Fighting Force. Eight escapees, some of them injured, were caught and returned to jail. Also arrested were five of the attackers who did not make it back to base. The Arab prisoners took advantage of the commotion, and 182 of them escaped as well.

Despite the heavy toll in human lives, the action was described by foreign journalists as 'the greatest jail break in history'. The London Ha'aretz correspondent wrote on May 5:

The attack on Acre jail has been seen here as a serious blow to British prestige... Military circles described the attack as a strategic masterpiece.

The New York Herald Tribune wrote that the underground had carried out 'an ambitious mission, their most challenging so far, in perfect fashion'.

In the House of Commons, Oliver Stanley asked what action His Majesty's Government was planning to take 'in light of the events at Acre prison which had reduced British prestige to a nadir'.

Shortly after the Acre jail break, Andrei Gromyko, USSR representative to the UN, caused a sensation when he informed the stunned delegates that his country took a favorable view of the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine.

Meir Nakar

Three weeks after the jail break, the five Irgun fighters who had been captured after the operation were put on trial. Three of the defendants - Avshalom Haviv, Yaakov Weiss and Meir Nakar - were carrying weapons when they were caught close to the jail wall. They challenged the authority of the court and, after making political statements, were all sentenced to death.

The other two, Michaeli and Ostrowicz, were captured, unarmed, at some distance from the jail. Since there was a chance of saving them from the death penalty, the Irgun General Headquarters decided to conduct a proper defence procedure. The counsel for the defence succeeded in producing documents proving that the two were minors, and the court sentenced them to life imprisonment.
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Re: The Irgun: Bombing of the King David Hotel

Postby admin » Fri Oct 20, 2017 7:33 am

The Gallows




Shlomo Ben-Yosef

As previously mentioned, on April 21, 1938, three members of the Beitar labor company at Rosh Pina (Avraham Shein, Shalom Jurabin and Shlomo Ben-Yosef) fired on an Arab bus on the Safed Rosh-Pina road in reprisal for Arab violence. None of the passengers were hit. The three men fled, hid in an abandoned building nearby and were arrested some time later by the police. They were tried by a military tribunal in Haifa and charged with illegal possession of arms and with 'intent to kill or cause other harm to a large number of people.' Under the Emergency Regulations, each of the charges was a capital offence. The three defendants announced that they intended to exploit the trial for political purposes.

The court pronounced Jurabin mentally unstable, and he was sentenced to incarceration in a mental hospital 'at the discretion of the High Commissioner'. Shein and Ben-Yosef were sentenced to death by hanging and accepted the sentence with exceptional stoicism. The Commander in Chief of British forces in Palestine confirmed Ben-Yosef's sentence, and later commuted Shein's sentence to life imprisonment on account of his youth.

On the morning of June 29, 1938, Shlomo Ben-Yosef prepared for his final hour. He stripped off the scarlet garments of the condemned man, and dressed in shorts, a shirt and work-boots. After breakfast, he brushed his teeth and awaited the police guard. He walked erect to the gallows, singing the Beitar anthem. On the wall of his death cell, Ben-Yosef had written in his poor Hebrew:

What is a homeland?
It is something worth living for, fighting for and dying for.

I was a slave to Beitar to the day of my death


Eliyahu Bet Zuri

Lord Moyne, who was known to be an anti-Zionist, had been appointed Minister of State for the Middle East, and from his place of residence in Cairo, was responsible for implementing the White Paper policy. Lehi, which considered Lord Moyne to be responsible for the deportation of the immigrant ships, decided to assassinate him. Two members of Lehi - Eliyahu Hakim and Eliyahu Bet Zuri - were dispatched to Cairo, and on November 6, 1944, they carried out the assassination, but were caught shortly afterwards. On January 10, 1945 they were charged with murder. Hakim and Beit-Zuri, manacled, stood calmly beside their Egyptian guards with red fezzes. Both were, and had been since their capture, completely self-possessed. They did not take part in the proceedings, and when the testimony was completed, Eliyahu Hakim rose to his feet and said:

We accuse Lord Moyne and the government he represents, with murdering hundreds and thousands of our brethren; we accuse him of seizing our country and looting our possessions...
We were forced to do justice and to fight.

Eliyahu Hakim

After being sentenced to death, they rose to their feet and sang the national anthem. On March 23, 1945, they were dressed in the traditional, ill-fitting red burlap suit of condemned men, marched barefoot to the gallows, were blindfolded at the scaffold, and hanged.


On Tuesday, April 23, 1946, a military vehicle approached the Ramat Gan police station, and let off about a dozen 'Arab prisoners' , escorted by 'British soldiers'. The 'prisoners' were taken into the station, and the 'British sergeant' in charge of the convoy informed the desk sergeant that the Arabs had been caught stealing at the Tel Litvinsky army camp (present-day Tel Hashomer) and were to be detained. While the desk sergeant was deciding what to do with them, the 'prisoners' and their escorts took out revolvers and ordered the policemen to put up their hands and file into the detention cell. Within moments, the unit had taken over the police station, and then moved towards the armory, blasting open the door. Meanwhile the 'porters', led by Dov Gruner, had entered the building. They removed the weapons from the armory and loaded them onto a waiting truck. A policeman on the upper storey noticed the activity, and directed machine-gun fire at the attackers. He shot the Irgun Bren gunner, who had taken up position on the balcony of the building opposite the police station, and then fired at the 'porters', who continued to load weapons while bullets whistled around them. When they had completed their task, the truck drove off to an orange grove near Ramat Gan.

Dov Gruner

The commander of the operation, Eliezer Pedatzur (Gad), counted his men and discovered that three were missing: the Bren gunner Yisrael Feinerman, who had been shot and killed while covering the 'porters' from the balcony of the building opposite the police station; Yaakov Zlotnik, who was fatally wounded while running to the truck (his body was discovered hanging on the barbed wire) and Dov Gruner, who had sustained jaw injury, had fallen into the trench beside the fence and was taken captive. The British took Gruner to Hadassah hospital in Tel Aviv, where he was operated by Professor Marcus. Gruner spent twelve days at Hadassah, with an armed guard posted outside his room around the clock. From there, he was transferred to the government hospital in Jaffa, and then to the medical division of the central jail in Jerusalem.

On January 1, 1947, seven months after his arrest, Gruner's trial opened at the military court in Jerusalem. He was charged with firing on policemen, and setting explosive charges with the intent of killing personnel 'on His Majesty's service'. When asked if he admitted his guilt, Gruner replied that he did not recognize the authority of the court to try him, had no intention of taking part in the proceedings, which he did not want translated into Hebrew for his benefit. Instead, he read a statement to the judges:

I do not recognize your authority to try me. This court has no legal foundation, since it was appointed by a regime without legal foundation.

You came to Palestine because of the commitment you undertook at the behest of all the nations of the world to rectify the greatest wrong caused to any nation in the history of mankind, namely the expulsion of Israel from their land, which transformed them into victims of persecution and incessant slaughter throughout the world. It was this commitment - and this commitment alone - which constituted the legal and moral basis for your presence in this country. But you betrayed it wilfully, brutally and with satanic cunning. You turned your commitment into a mere scrap of paper...

When the prevailing government in any country is not legal, when it becomes a regime of oppression and tyranny, it is the right of its citizens - more than that, it is their duty - to fight this regime and to topple it. This is what Jewish youth are doing and will continue to do until you quit this land, and hand it over to its rightful owners: the Jewish people. For you should know this: there is no power in the world which can sever the tie between the Jewish people and their one and only land. Whosoever tries to sever it - his hand will be cut off and the curse of God will rest on him for ever.

There was a silence in the courtroom after Gruner's statement. The prosecutor delivered his address and summoned witnesses. In an unusual move, the prosecutor pointed out several factors in favor of the accused: his five years' service in the British army, his good conduct during his service, his participation in fighting on the Italian front and the severe injury he suffered, which left him disabled. This statement had no effect on the judges, and after a brief consultation, the president of the court announced that Gruner had been found guilty on two charges. On the first charge, he was sentenced to be hung by the neck. The court reserved the right to determine the punishment for the second charge. Immediately after the reading of the sentence, Gruner rose to his feet and declared:

"In blood and fire Judea fell, in blood and fire Judea will rise again"

- a quotation from a poem written by the poet Yaakov Cohen after the 1903 Kishinev pogroms, which became the slogan of the Hashomer organization.

A poster published by the Irgun

Dov Gruner was taken to the death cell under heavy guard, and dressed in scarlet garments. He spent 105 days in the cell, alternating between hope and despair, while leaders and public figures in Palestine and abroad interceded with the British government to commute the death sentence to life imprisonment. Heavy pressure was also exerted on Gruner to plead for clemency, but he insisted on being treated as a prisoner of war and refused to sign the request.

Forty eight hours before the date fixed for the execution, Gruner wrote a letter from his cell to the Irgun commander, which he concluded with the following words:

I am writing these lines 48 hours before our oppressors are due to carry out the murder, and at such times one cannot lie. I swear that if I had the choice of starting again, I would choose the same path I have followed regardless of the possible consequences for me.


Benyamin Kimchi, who was arrested after the Irgun attack on the Ottoman Bank in Jaffa, was sentenced in December 1946 to 18 years imprisonment and 18 lashes. It was the first time that an underground fighter had been given this humiliating sentence. The Irgun General Headquarters took a very severe view of the sentence, and cautioned the British against carrying it out. "If it is implemented," they wrote in a leaflet which was widely distributed, "the same punishment will be inflicted on British army officers. Each of them will be liable to receive 18 lashes."

The British ignored the Irgun warnings, and on Friday, December 27, 1946, Kimchi received 18 lashes in the Jerusalem jail. Immediately afterwards, a unit of Irgun fighters was sent into action. A captain from the Sixth Airborne Division was whipped in Netanya, two British sergeants in Tel Aviv, and another sergeant in Rishon Lezion.

Another unit (composed of Yehiel Dresner, Mordechai Alkahi, Eliezer Kashani, Haim Golovsky and Avraham Mizrahi) set out by car from Petah Tikva on a similar mission. Not far from Wilhelma, they encountered a road-block and came under heavy fire. Mizrahi, the driver, was hit and died later. The other four were dragged out of the vehicle and taken to a nearby army camp, where they were stripped, beaten and humiliated. After five days of torture they were taken to the central prison in Jerusalem.

Yehiel Dresner

On February 10, 1947, 43 days after their capture and arrest, their trial opened at a military court in Jerusalem. The defendants did not take part in the proceedings, refused to answer questions and did not cross-examine prosecution witnesses. When the testimony was completed, Dresner and Golovsky rose to their feet and declared that they did not recognize the authority of the court; they considered themselves to be prisoners of war and hence the authorities were empowered to detain them, but not to try them.

Yehiel Dresner, the first to speak, said:

We set out to prove to you that a new Hebrew generation has arisen in this country, which will not tolerate humiliation, will not accept slavery and will fight for its honor at all costs. We will break your whip...

No longer will you whip the citizens of this country, whether Jews or Arabs, for we, the soldiers of Israel, have rebelled against your rule and its despicable methods.

Golovsky's statement was also directed at 'the officers of the occupation army' and was devoted mainly to a description of the persecution, torture and humiliation to which the four defendants had been subjected. His aim was to inform the world, through the foreign journalists present in court, of the degrading treatment they had received at the hands of the British.

Eliezer Kashani

The trial was brief and the sentence was handed down on the same day: death by hanging for Alkahi, Dresner and Kashani, and life imprisonment for Golovsky on account of his youth (he was 17). After hearing the sentence, the four rose to their feet and sang the Hatikva anthem. They were taken to the central jail, where Dov Gruner was in the death cell. Forty-eight hours later, General Barker, who left the country the same day, confirmed the sentences.

Public figures and institutions tried hard to have the sentence commuted. A petition was submitted, signed by 800 residents of Petah Tikva (three of the defendants lived there), and an appeal was submitted to the Supreme Court, claiming errors in legal procedure, but to no avail. It should be stressed that all these steps were taken on the initiative of public figures and relatives of the defendants. They themselves authorized nobody to act on their behalf and, like Dov Gruner, refused to sign an appeal for clemency. They even issued a public statement in which they said:

Do you not understand that your requests for clemency are an affront to your honor and the honor of the entire people? It represents servility towards the authorities reminiscent of the Diaspora. We are war prisoners and we demand that they treat us as war prisoners...

At present we are in their hands... We cannot resist them, and they can treat us as they choose... But they cannot break our spirit. We know how to die with honor as befits Hebrews.

Mordechai Alkahi

On April 15, the British transferred the four condemned men: Gruner, Alkahi, Dresner and Kashani from Jerusalem jail to Acre prison. The move was carried out clandestinely, and the authorities hinted that they had no intention of carrying out the sentence in the near future. When their lawyer, Max Critchman, approached the Acre prison authorities, and asked why they were being moved, he was told that "... the governor has received no instructions regarding preparations for executions, and the procedure is that the jail administration receives such instructions several days before the executions."

The next day, at 2.45 am, three British policemen and one Arab policeman came to the apartment of Nehemiah Katriel Magril, the only Jew living in Acre. Magril was a scholar, who acted as emissary to the Jewish inmates of the jail and led the prayers there on the Sabbath and festivals. He had never been ordained as a rabbi, and was known among the Arabs as 'Hakham Abu Mussa'. Ha'aretz, Sapril 17, 1947, describes the visit:

The policemen awakened Magril and asked him to accompany them to the jail. They refused to reveal the reason for their request and urged him to hurry, saying that they had no time. When Magril asked them how long they needed him for, they replied: 'About two hours'. Then he understood the meaning of the request and replied: 'I refuse to go with you. You must contact the chief rabbinate in Haifa'.

The policemen left without him. Magril learned of the execution of Dov Gruner and his comrades only a few hours later, from a Jerusalem radio broadcast.

At 4 am, Dov Gruner was roused from his sleep, and taken to the gallows. Present in the cell were the head of the prison service in Palestine, the governor of Acre jail, a physician and six British officers. As was the custom in Britain and the colonies, the governor served as hangman, but, in violation of custom - no rabbi was present. Dov Gruner went to the gallows without confession, as so did Yehiel Dresner, Eliezer Kashani and Mordechai Alkahi. All four were hanged within half an hour, and each of them, as his turn arrived, sang Hatikva until he died. Each was joined in his singing by those awaiting their turn.

As the condemned men walked through the jail, all the Jewish prisoners rose to their feet and sang the national anthem.


In March 17, 1947, the day on which martial law was lifted, the military court in Jerusalem sentenced Moshe Barazani to death by hanging. Barazani, a member of Lehi, had been arrested eight days previously in the Makor Baruch quarter of Jerusalem, not far from Schneller camp. In a body search, a grenade was found, and he was tried on a charge of bearing arms and intent to assassinate Brigadier A.P. Davis, who was in charge of implementing martial law in the city. Barazani declared that he did not recognise the authority of the court to try him, and would not take part in the proceedings. He made a political statement, in which he said that the Jewish people regarded the British as alien rulers of their country:

In this war, I have fallen captive to you, and you have no right to try me. You will not intimidate us by hangings nor will you succeed in destroying us. My people and all the people you have enslaved will fight your empire to the death.

Moshe Barazani

The trial was brief; ninety minutes after it began, the judge read out the death sentence. Barazani rose to his feet and sang Hatikva, but the police guard interrupted him and dragged him away. He was chained hand and foot and taken to the condemned man's cell, where he joined Dov Gruner and his three comrades - Eliezer Kashani, Yehiel Dresner and Mordechai Alkahi, whose death sentences had already been confirmed by the British Commander in Chief in Palestine.


A week after Barazani's trial, on March 25, 1947, the military court convened again - this time to try the four Irgun fighters who had been caught after the explosion at the Jerusalem railway station. Two of the defendants, Mas'ud Biton and Moshe Horovitz, were apprehended at some distance from the station, and the Irgun General Headquarters decided that they should deny any involvement in the deed. Horovitz was arrested with a bullet wound, but one of the traders at the commercial center agreed to testify that Horovitz had been in his store, had heard shots fired and had gone out to see what was happening and been wounded. The other two, Meir Feinstein and Daniel Azulay, announced that they did not recognize the authority of the court to try them, and would not take part in the proceedings. Before sentence was passed, the two made political statements. Feinstein said:

A gallows regime, that is what you are trying to impose on this country, which was intended to serve as a beacon of light for all mankind. And in your foolishness and malice, you assume that by means of this regime you will succeed in breaking the spirit of our people, the people for whom the whole country has become a gallows. You are wrong. You will discover that you have met up with steel, steel forged in the flame of love and hatred, love of the homeland and of freedom and hatred of slavery and of the invader. It is burning steel, and you cannot shatter it. You will burn your own hands.

Meir Feinstein

The court accepted the alibi of Horovitz and Biton and released them. Meir Feinstein and Daniel Azulay were sentenced to death by hanging. They were removed from court and taken to the death cell in the central prison in Jerusalem, where they joined Gruner, Alkahi, Dresner, Kashani and Barazani.

On April 17, 1947, the day after the hanging of Gruner, Alkahi, Dresner and Kashani, the British Commander in Chief in Palestine confirmed the sentences of Feinstein and Barazani. Daniel Azulay's sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.


In the death cell in the central prison in Jerusalem, Feinstein and Barazani resolved to blow themselves and their executioners up. They wrote to their comrades in adjacent cells:

Brethren, greetings.

You have not done well in failing to send it to us. Who knows if by morning it will not be too late. Do not allow time to lapse. Send it to us as soon as possible. All you have been told was merely an emotional storm which passed swiftly. We are fully resolved. Our greetings to all. Be strong and so will we.

M.F., M. B.

"It" referred to the two grenades which Feinstein and Barazani planned to hurl at the executioners when they came to escort them to the gallows. The idea was not new; it had been broached when Dov Gruner was in the death cell awaiting execution. The explosives were smuggled into the prison in parcels of food earmarked for prisoners who received "special treatment". When Dov Gruner was moved with his comrades to Acre prison, the explosives were left behind in the Jerusalem jail.

It was not easy for the Irgun and Lehi prisoners to carry out the wishes of their condemned comrades, but each of them knew that if he had been in their place, he would have asked the same. On the day on which they received confirmation of their request from the Irgun and Lehi headquarters, the prisoners started to prepare the grenades. They sliced off the top of an orange, scooped out the fruit and filled the space with gelignite and small metal strips. Into this they inserted detonators connected to a fuse. Finally, the top of the orange was replaced with thin toothpicks, so that it appeared intact.

Three times a day, the condemned men were handed food prepared by inmates who worked in the kitchen. The prison guards, who examined the food carefully, were accustomed to the sight of oranges, and passed them through without particular scrutiny. A basket of fruit was prepared, which included two 'special' oranges. The food was taken into the cell by one of the non-political prisoners, and a note on a tiny scrap of paper hidden in the leftovers was removed from the cell:

Greetings, dear friends.

We have received the "press". Everything is clear to us, and we rejoice at this last opportunity to take part in avenging our four comrades. As for us, we are convinced that our organizations will avenge us to the proper degree and in the proper fashion. But they may take us by surprise and move us to Acre, and therefore please ask outside that they prepare the same thing for us in Acre, so that we can be sure of doing it.

We are strong.


M. Feinstein and M. Barazani.

On Monday, April 21, 1947, about a week after the hangings at Acre, curfew was imposed on Jerusalem and it was rumored that Feinstein and Barazani were about to be executed. At 9:15 in the evening, British officers arrived at the home of Rabbi Yaakov Goldman, chief rabbi of the prison, and asked him to accompany them to the central prison. They did not give reasons, but it was clear to all that Feinstein and Barazani were about to be hanged. Rabbi Goldman was taken into the death cell, and tried to hearten the two fighters. He read the Viduy (confession) and, at the request of Feinstein, they sang the Adon Olam (the most hail and praise to God prayer). Then the two condemned men sang Hatikva, and the rabbi left with the prison governor, promising to return to be with them in their final hour.

Feinstein and Barazani did not reveal their secret to the rabbi, but urged him not to return for the execution. The rabbi was adamant, and in order not to hurt him, the two decided to change their original plan and to blow themselves up before the hangman arrived. About half an hour after the rabbi's departure, two explosions were heard from the cell:

Moshe and Meir stood embraced. The grenades were held between them, at the height of their hearts. Meir lit a cigarette, with which he ignited the fuses that Moshe held, and they died together as heroes.

On the instructions of the chief rabbi, Rabbi Yitzhak Halevi Herzog, the two men were buried on the Mount of Olives in the section of the martyrs of the 1929 and 1936-38 riots. Rabbi Aryeh Levin (the prisoners' rabbi) and Benyamin Feinstein, Meir's brother, eulogized them at the graveside.

The courageous stand of the underground fighters in their final hour won them great esteem in Eretz Israel and throughout the world. A new generation had emerged in Palestine, ready to sacrifice itself for the noble objective of liberating its people and country. The poet, Nathan Alterman, who was an opponent of the Irgun and Lehi, published a poem in praise of Feinstein and Barazani in 'Davar', the Histadrut newspaper.


Avshalom Haviv

On May 28, some three weeks after the Acre prison break, the British tried Avshalom Haviv, Yaakov Weiss and Meir Nakar, who had been caught just outside the prison wall carrying weapons. Haviv and his comrades did not acknowledge the right of the court to try them, and chose to exploit the forum in order to make political statements. They did not take part in the trial, which lasted nearly three weeks, with more than 35 prosecution witnesses being called. After the prosecutor's summing up, the defendants made their statements.

The first speaker was Avshalom Haviv, who compared the struggle of the Jewish underground to that of the Irish, and said, among other things:

When the fighters of the Irish underground took up arms against you, you tried to drown the uprising against tyranny in rivers of blood. You built gallows; you murdered people in the streets; you banished some into distant lands. You thought, in your great folly, that by force of persecution, you could break the spirit of resistance of the free Irish, but you were wrong. The Irish rebellion grew until a free Ireland came into being... You wonder how it came to pass that those Jews whom you thought to be cowards, who were the victims of massacre for generations, have risen up against your rule, are fighting your armies, and when they stand in the shadow of death, they scorn it... Their courage and spiritual force are drawn from two sources: the renewed contact of Hebrew youth with the land of their fathers, which has restored to them the tradition of courage of the heroes of the past, and the lesson of the Holocaust, which taught us that we are conducting a struggle not only for our liberty but also for our very survival.

Meir Nakar

Meir Nakar, in his statement, also spoke of the 'bankruptcy' of British policy in Palestine and the collapse of a regime "whose officials are forced to live in ghettoes" (an allusion to the security zones in which the British enclosed themselves).

Yaakov Weiss

Yaakov Weiss attacked the anti-Zionist policy of the British government and denied the legitimacy of British presence in Palestine:

Your very presence here, against which everyone protests, is illegal. This land is ours from time immemorial and for ever more. What do you, British officers, have to do with our homeland? Who appointed you rulers of an ancient and freedom-loving nation?

On June 16, the sentence was passed: death by hanging for all three.

The Irgun General Headquarters ordered its Fighting Force to take hostages so as to save the lives of the condemned men, but the British ignored the warnings of the Irgun, and the pleas of leaders of the Yishuv and of many prominent people throughout the world. On July 8, the governor of the British military forces in Palestine confirmed the death sentence handed down three weeks previously. Several days later, an Irgun unit seized two British sergeants in Netanya as they were leaving a cafe. The sergeants were pushed into a waiting car and taken to a pre-arranged hiding place.

The kidnapping of the sergeants stunned not only the British, but also the leaders of the Yishuv. They knew only too well that the Irgun would carry out its threat, and feared the reaction of the British army.

As soon as the kidnapping became known, curfew was imposed on Netanya and the surrounding area, and a house to house search began. Haganah forces joined in the search, but without success. The two sergeants were held in a bunker which had been dug in a diamond factory on the outskirts of the town, with enough food and oxygen for a lengthy period. The taking of hostages by the Irgun did not deter the British government, and in the early morning hours of July 29, the three Irgun fighters - Avshalom Haviv, Yaakov Weiss and Meir Nakar - were hanged at Acre prison. It should be noted that the decision to carry out the sentence was taken at a special session of the Cabinet in London, despite the knowledge that the decision would seal the fate of the two sergeants. Rabbi Nissim Ohana of Haifa, who was asked to accompany the three condemned men in their final hour, wrote of their conduct:

They showed no sign of fear or shock. They were very brave...

I stayed with them about an hour, and when I left, they asked me to send their greetings to the Yishuv, and expressed the wish for redemption for the Jewish people. I said to them: be blessed, heroes of the nation.

The British left the Irgun no alternative, and the following day, July 30, the two sergeants were found hanged in a wood near Netanya. The Irgun hoped that this action would bring to a halt the spate of executions meted out by the British. Indeed, after the hanging of the two sergeants, no more death sentences were carried out in Eretz Israel.

The hanging of the sergeants shocked the British government and people. The press denounced the act which, more than any other, caused the government to re-think its attitude towards the future of Palestine. Begin writes in his book "The Revolt" that the "cruel act" was one of the events which tipped the balance in the British withdrawal from Palestine. Colonel Archer Cassett, one of the senior British Mandatory officials, said in a lecture in 1949 that "the hanging of the sergeants did more than anything else to get us out of Palestine".
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Re: The Irgun: Bombing of the King David Hotel

Postby admin » Fri Oct 20, 2017 8:20 am

Israel Military Intelligence: The Lavon Affair
by Jewish Virtual Library
Accessed 10/20/17



The Lavon Affair is a spy story in Israel's early years that left a nasty mark on the young state, with reverberations for the following 20 years. It's name derived from Israeli Defense Minister Pinhas Lavon, though it is also referred to as "Esek HaBish" or "The Mishap".

Revolving around nearly a dozen young Egyptian Jews who agreed to spy for Israel against their home country, the affair taps into a story of idealism and self-sacrifice as well as abandonment and an unwillingness to take responsibility.

Due to strict censorship in Israel in the early 1950's, few knew that in the year 1954 Israeli underground cells that had been operating in Egypt were uncovered by the Egyptian police. A number of young Jews were arrested and forced to undergo a show trial. Two of them - Yosef Carmon and Max Binnet - committed suicide in prison due to the brutal interrogation methods of the Egyptian police. Two more - Dr. Moshe Marzouk of Cairo and Shmuel Azar of Alexandria - were sentenced to death and hanged in a Cairo prison. Israel glorified them as martyrs. Their memory was sanctified. Neighborhoods and gardens were named after them in Israel, as were dozens of children born in the year 1955. At the same time it was not publicly conceded that they died in the service of Israel. The other six heroes of the "Esek HaBish" were far less prominently known. They were sentenced to long jail terms, where they languished for years. Two of them, Meir Meyuhas and Meir Za'afran, were released in 1962, after having served seven year jail sentences. Shrouded in secrecy, they reached Israel where their arrival was not made public, and journalists were not allowed to interview them. Sworn to silence, they reconstructed their lives to the best of their ability, far from the spotlight.

That left four more "Zionist spies," as they came to be called in Egypt. Marcelle Ninio, a woman, and Robert Dassa, both sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment, and Victor Levy and Philip Nathanson, who were sentenced for life. Marcelle Ninio was kept on her own in the women's prison in Kanather. The men were jailed together for fourteen years, mainly in the Tura prison.

Why would such young Jews risk their lives for an Arab country in which they were born, for a country - Israel - which until 1952 they had never seen? And why would Israel decide to open up a cell of native Jews to spy for them?

For Israel, sources of information were drying up in Egypt after the War of Independence of 1948. Perhaps more than half of Egypt's approximately 80,000 Jews had left for Israel by mid-1950. Egyptian Muslims were more openly hostile and distrustful of those Jews who remained, which led many Jews to sever any connection they had with Israel. Israel thus needed sources of information. More than that, by the early 1950's Egyptian nationalist agitation against the British presence in Egypt and especially in the Suez Canal Zone was intensifying. Britain was speaking openly about leaving Egypt as she had from Palestine a few years before, in 1948. British troops in the Canal Zone were living in similar conditions to those in Palestine by the end of the Mandate - behind barbed wire in protected zones.

The Israelis, meanwhile, did not want the British to leave. The British presence guaranteed a buffer of sorts to an attempted Egyptian invasion of Israel. With the British gone, there would be nothing to stand between Egypt and Israel but the vast wastelands of the Sinai.

Thus the Israelis approached a number of native Egyptian Jews, who recruited others, usually from among their own social circle. These Egyptian Jews were ready to spy against Egypt because they never regarded themselves, nor did others regard them, as Egyptians. They attended Jewish schools, their social contacts were limited almost exclusively to Jews, and most of them did not even hold Egyptian citizenship.

Unlike other Middle Eastern Jewish communities, the perhaps 80,000 pre-1948 Egyptian Jewish population had shallow roots. Many Jews had arrived in Egypt only in the second half of the 19th century or the beginning of the 20th. Some settled in Egypt while on the way to Palestine from Yemen or North Africa. Others were former Ottoman Jews, hailing from all over the pre World War I Ottoman Middle Eastern Empire.

Egypt even became somewhat of a haven for Jews expelled from Palestine by the Turks during World War I. David Ben-Gurion was one of the many Palestinian Jews who spent time in Egypt during the war years of 1914-18. After the war, some Jews even came from Eastern Europe, fleeing from the Communist revolution. While many of them would have preferred to go to America or Palestine, they were unable to so they remained in Egypt. Like other foreign colonies, such as the Italians and Greeks, the Jews lived in Egypt without really striking roots. They lived mainly in their own neighborhoods in Cairo and Alexandria (as well as in a number of cities close to the Suez Canal), they attended their own schools, and spoke their own languages. As many of them were fairly well educated, they spoke French, the language of culture, and English, the language of Government. (The British remained in Egypt from 1882-1956, and ruled for much of that period). Many of them could not even read or write in Arabic, and spoke only a very basic Arabic.

Moshe Marzouk, an extremely bright young man studying to be a doctor when he entered the spy ring, was born in Cairo to the Karaite sect. The Karaites are a Jewish sect founded in Persia in the 8th century CE, recognizing only the written Bible - meaning the Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings. The Karaites reject the oral, Talmudic tradition and thus the authority of the rabbis to interpret Jewish Scripture. "The movement flourished between the 10th and 12th centuries, spreading to Palestine, from there to Egypt and Syria, and into Europe by way of Spain and Byzantium." In their rejection of the Oral tradition, the Karaites are similar to the Samaritans, a tiny sect living on Mount Gerizim in the West Bank (or Judaea and Samaria). The Samaritans accept only the Five Books of Moses, rejecting the Prophets and Writings.

The Karaites in Egypt regarded themselves as Jews, as did the Egyptian Jewish community as a whole. The Karaite quarter bordered the Jewish Quarter of Cairo's Old City and was part of it. Like other Jews, the Karaites dreamed of Israel and took part in Zionist activity, whether legal or illegal (as it often was in Egypt by the 1940's). At the same time the Karaites mixed more with the Egyptian population as a whole, and Arabic was their first language. They were thus more integrated than other Jews. Some even bore Arabic names.

Moshe Marzouk's family came to Egypt from Tunisia at the beginning of the 20th century. His family retained their French citizenship, which was very common practice for Jews living in North African countries in the 19th and 20th centuries. In 1948, during Israel's War of Independence, there were attacks and even bombings by Egyptians on the Jewish sections of Egyptian cities. Moshe Marzouk was approached about organizing Jewish self-defense in Cairo in 1948, which he agreed to. Later, he worked helping Egyptian Jews emigrate to Israel.

Shmuel Azar, Victor Levy and Robert Dassa were born in Alexandria, a much more cosmopolitan city than Cairo. One could hear French, Italian and Greek as much as Arabic in Alexandria's broad, straight thoroughfares lined by French style buildings.

All three boys were born in Egypt. Robert Dassa's family was one of those that settled in Egypt on the way from Yemen to Palestine. In his pictures in prison, Robert, with his jet-black hair, dark complexion and mustache looked the most Egyptian of all.

Victor, Robert, and Philip Nathanson (another member of the spy ring) were all 16 in 1948, and all involved in Zionist activity. Shmuel Azar was four years older and not really part of their social group until later.

The espionage story began in the very early 1950's when the Israelis sent an undercover agent to Egypt by the name of Avraham Dar. He went by the name John Darling, posing as a British citizen of the island of Gibraltar. He taught the Egyptian Jewish spy ring about underground organizations and conspiratorial tactics. They learned how to make delayed action devices, letter bombs, and the intricacies of photography. In early 1952 most of them came to Israel - secretly, of course - in order to learn sabotage and underground techniques. Most of them fell in love with Israel and vowed to do whatever they could to help.

At a farewell party for the small number of Egyptian Jews who participated in the course, they decided to call what they would be called upon to do "Operation Susannah." It was partly in jest, named after Victor Levy's fiancee, whose name was Susan Kauffman. She went with him to Israel and stayed. The spies were to return to Egypt, and they would know when to go into action when they would hear an Israel radio broadcast of the American song "Oh! Susannah."

Victor Levy left for Egypt in August 1952. On the way back to Egypt he first stopped off in Paris and then other locations in France in order to learn more about manufacturing explosives and some photography.

An Israeli agent by the name of Avraham Seidenberg was sent to take over the organization of the spy ring from his predecessor, Avraham Dar. Seidenberg was a good choice for such a dangerous mission - taking into account that he was an Israeli unlike the Egyptian Jews, and thus had more of a chance of his cover being blown. Yet he had little to lose. He had been caught looting Arab property during Israel's War of Independence and had never been able to rehabilitate himself in public life. His marriage, too, was on the rocks, and thus he was quite happy to be offered something that could lead to new vistas and opportunities.

Seidenberg was first sent to Germany to establish a false identity as a former SS officer by the name of Paul Frank. He successfully infiltrated the ranks of the underground former Nazi network. He set out for Egypt in early 1954, his new identity established. "He chalked up a number of successes, uncovering the underground route by which wanted Nazi war criminals slipped through to the Arab states, as well as supplying the first reports about Egyptian efforts to establish an arms industry with the help of German experts." Once he arrived in Egypt he began recruiting further members of the Egyptian Jewish community. Marcelle Ninio was one of those who were captivated by his show of confidence and by the fact that he was an Israeli. The other members of the cell - who all knew each other, which was an unfortunate portent and a major mistake in terms of organizing espionage operations - agreed to work for him as well. On July 2, 1954, they went into action. They first blew up some post offices and a few days later, the American libraries in Cairo and Alexandria. These operations were to "make it clear to the whole world that Egypt's new rulers were nothing but a group of foolhardy extremists, unreliable and unworthy of taking charge of an asset as important as the Suez Canal. Furthermore, it was to be demonstrated that their grasp on power was uncertain, that they faced powerful internal opposition, and, consequently, they were unworthy of being counted upon as a dependable ally."

Robert Dassa was one of the first of the spies to be caught. Philip Nathanson was caught soon after when, on the way to blow up a cinema in Alexandria, the bomb he was carrying in his pocket ignited and then exploded. What was a particularly alarming factor was that outside of the theater a fire engine was waiting, as if expecting them. Philip had the distinct feeling he was being watched. It turned out that he had been.

As Philip lay on the ground, he saw startled and frightened faces looking down at him. While somebody shouted "Take care! He may have another bomb!" Philip heard a police sergeant say "Don't worry, don't worry. We were waiting for them. These are the people who set fire to the American library." He was taken by ambulance to a hospital. After being lightly treated, he was interrogated by members of Egypt's military intelligence, the Muhabarrat. The others were caught soon after - Shmuel Azar, Philip Nathanson, Robert Dassa, and Marcelle Ninio. None of them had been prepared by their Israeli handlers for this eventuality.

They refused to implicate one another. At first, they didn't even admit to the bombings. When the police brought Philip Nathanson to his house with incriminating material, which were sure to implicate him, Philip continued to maintain that he was innocent of all charges. As he recalls being brought to his house: "'The house was overflowing with policemen and detectives in and out of uniform. They took me straight to the garden, and to the workshop in the garden hut. This too was so crowded there was no room for me, and I remained standing on the threshold… The policemen had piled the table with Vim cans, chemicals, and the fine scales I used for weighing them. With each item they found, they asked me: 'What's this? What's it for?'"

'I told them I was manufacturing dyes.'

'Sure,' said the governor sarcastically. 'There's a good market for them, praise be to Allah.'"

The police took everything they could from his house, even a fork and a spoon, to be used as evidence against them. Victor Levy, Robert Dassa and Philip Nathanson held up to the persistent questioning, threats, and occasional beatings. They maintained that they were Communists who wanted the British imperialists out of Egypt. This even earned them the admiration and respect from the Egyptians, who also wanted the British out. That is, until Shmuel Azar, who was constitutionally incapable of telling a lie, admitted that they were Jews and Zionists working on behalf of the State of Israel. Thereafter, the whole network was rounded up and arrested by August 5, 1954. "Paul Frank", or Avraham Seidenberg, meanwhile, did nothing, and left Egypt only on August 5, when Meir Meyuhas and Moshe Marzouk were arrested.

In Israel, Seidenberg got a hero's welcome as the only member of the network who had gotten away. Meanwhile, Marcelle Ninio waited nervously, not knowing what to do, wishing to leave, but unable to do so. Seidenberg never got back in contact with her, and in fact appeared to be very relaxed about the whole ordeal. He had even encouraged the Egyptian Jews to stay put before they were arrested. It was only years later that they began to question Seidenberg's role in the story. Israeli Intelligence began to suspect him much earlier.

The "Zionist spies," as they came to be called, hadn't been well treated before they admitted they had been working on behalf of Israel. But it was bearable. That all changed after their association with Israel was known. Marcelle Ninio was arrested and beaten mercilessly on the soles of her feet, she was threatened with sexual abuse, and it didn't let up. The torture became so unbearable that at one point she threw herself out of a window and nearly died. She only just managed to survive. She was taken to a hospital where she was allowed to heal.

The men were transferred from Alexandria to Cairo, where the prison guards were known to be even more savage than their Alexandrian counterparts. They were taken to the Sigan Harbi, a prison notorious for its cruelty - a reputation the guards there very much wanted to maintain. When they were marched down the stinking and decrepit hallways, in chains, they could hear cries coming out of the other cells. In the near future those cries would sometimes be of their friends. This went on day and night. Treatment was something akin to a medieval torture chamber. Moreover, there were rivalries between the police and prison guards on the one side, and the Muhabarrat (military intelligence) on the other. Both sides wanted to prove that they could extract more information than the other.

The prison guards would sometimes hang the prisoners up with their arms tied behind their heads, and beat the prisoners savagely until they fainted, and sometimes even died. The truth is that this treatment was not only meted out to the Jewish spies - Egyptian members of the Muslim Brotherhood, who were fierce opponents of Nasser's secular, socialist, military regime - received exactly the same treatment, and sometimes even worse. At one point one of the higher level prison guards, after savagely beating a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, called in Robert Dassa. The guard told him to beat the Moslem Brother. "Now, I am going to let a Jew beat you."

Robert refused. The Moslem Brotherhood member's eyes, cringing with fear, softened a little. The guards turned on Robbie savagely and told him to beat the prisoner or else. He wouldn't. A gang of guards then set upon Robbie, savagely beating him, while the Moslem Brother pleaded with the guards to stop beating Robbie. As long as he could, Robbie stoically refused to cry out and give the guards any kind of satisfaction.

After months of this kind of treatment they were finally brought to trial. The verdict was predetermined from the start, a fact which was known as long ago as 1956. The sentences were a compromise between the extremists of the new government, who wanted all of the spies put to death, and those more moderate members of the government, "who preferred to win the world's sympathy for their regime by a more humane approach. This is confirmed by the court's presiding judge, Gen. Fuad el Digwi, when he fell into Israeli captivity during the 1956 campaign. At the time he was the military governor of the Gaza Strip. He told his interrogators: 'The verdict was dictated to me by my supervisors, who decided how many were to be sentenced to death, how many to imprisonment, and for what terms.'"

The trial went on for two weeks. As a show trial, it was staged for two purposes. "Abroad, it was to stress the story that 'Israel tried to undermine Egyptian-American friendship'; at home, it would show that the regime's severity was not confined to the Moslem Brotherhood alone." As we discussed above, the Nasser regime treated the Moslem Brothers as badly as the Jewish spies.

The trial was given "unusual publicity." The press emphasized again and again how dangerous the 'Israeli' spies were to Egypt, and demanded severe punishment. Naturally, the press pronounced the Jews guilty before the court did. Such intensive and ongoing press coverage had a deeply demoralizing effect on the families of the imprisoned Jewish spies. In court, however, they showed smiles of encouragement from the spectators' gallery, as did the spies themselves. Marcelle Ninio was completely healed by then - it is unlikely they would have permitted her to be shown to the outside world in any other way.

Moshe Marzouk publicly took responsibility for the group and everything that they had done. The presiding Military Judge, General Digwi was taken aback by the admission. On only one point did Moshe concede to his companions' pleas not to reveal more about their activities; and that was not to admit that they had undergone military training in Israel.

After the trial the men were transferred to Tura Prison. Moshe Marzouk and Shmuel Azar were sentenced to be hanged. Massive world pressure was applied on the Egyptian Government not to hang the two condemned men. American President Eisenhower intervened, as did the Indian President Nehru - and even the Pope. The Egyptians, aware of the American hangings of the Rosenbergs, Jewish Americans who had spied on behalf of the Soviet Union, responded; "Egypt (will) treat its spies in precisely the same manner adopted by the United States." Moshe Marzouk and Shmuel Azar were hanged in early 1955.

Marcelle Ninio was sentenced to 15 years in the women's prison of Kanather - the longest sentence ever for a women political prisoner in Egypt. The previous high had been 8 years.

After the hangings of Moshe Marzouk and Shmuel Azar, relations between Egypt and Israel considerably worsened. Palestinian infiltration from Gaza into Israel, with Egyptian connivance, considerably increased, as did Israeli retaliatory raids. Border tensions were reflected in the prison. The Egyptian guards frequently incited the Moslem prisoners against their fellow Jewish prisoners. When the prisoners were sent out to the quarries to undergo grueling, back-breaking labor cutting and hauling rocks, the "Zionist spies" were under constant threat of falling rocks loosened by ill-intentioned fellow prisoners. The Jews did have an advantage, however: Robbie was known in their old prison (the Sigan Harbi), as someone who had helped the Moslem Brothers who had been tortured by the prison authorities. They saw that he refused to beat a fellow prisoner and had been beaten in return. He also helped many other prisoners beaten so badly that they could hardly walk to get back and forth to the bathroom when they needed to.

In theory, while the Moslem Brothers should have hated Robbie and his fellow Jewish prisoners, they recognized what he had done for them. When he was transferred to Tura, word was passed that Robert had helped the Moslem Brotherhood, and that henceforth he was to be treated as one of them. In fact, Robert and the other Jewish prisoners formed friendships with men whom, on the outside, they would have been bitter enemies with.

It is almost touching to see how the Jewish prisoners, in jail, formed relations with other prisoners who were fully aware of the fact that they had been caught and sentenced for spying for Israel. Although tensions heated up during the 1956 war, after it many Moslem guards and prisoners told the Jewish prisoners that they had every reason to be released in a prisoner exchange, and wished them the best.

It seemed logical that they would be released; Israel held 5000 Egyptian prisoners after her conquest of the Sinai. But they traded them all back for one Israeli pilot. Israel didn't even ask for the spies. It is not clear why this was the case. Either Israel did not want to ask, and thereby admit their involvement in the affair (which could have endangered Israel's relations with the United States); or else the Israelis simply didn't want to get involved. Many of the Israelis originally involved in the "Lavon Affair" or "Esek HaBish" had been forced out of office and no longer wanted anything to do with it. They didn't raise their voices in protest over the abandonment of the spies; they simply didn't bring the subject up. Whatever the case, the spies continued to languish in prison, long after the last of the Egyptian prisoners returned home.

One person who became convinced that something had gone amiss, and that people in Israel were to blame - was David Ben-Gurion. In a Commission of Inquiry into the Affair published in December 1960, Pinhas Lavon, (the Defense Minister at the time of the capture of the spies in 1954) was declared not guilty of authorizing the operation. All the ministers in Ben-Gurion's accepted this ruling except for Ben-Gurion himself. A bitter debate ensued which subsequently went on for years. But by then most of those involved in the affair had been removed from their posts. Motke Ben-Tzur, head of a section of Military Intelligence in 1954, had been dismissed in October of that year. Pinhas Lavon resigned from the post of Defense Minister on January 2, 1955. Binyamin Gibli, the Director of military Intelligence, was replaced as well.

The only man to emerge unscathed was Avraham Seidenberg, alias "Paul Frank," alias "Robert", who was subsequently referred to in Israel as "the Third Man". He had given the order to the cell to act - and he was the only one who escaped. As we saw, he returned to a hero's welcome in Israel, his role in the affair unquestioned at the time. Israeli Intelligence even sent him on another mission to Germany.

Isser Harel served as head of the Shin Bet and the Mossad from 1952-1963. He became a giant in early Israeli intelligence, responsible for the capture of Adolph Eichmann and many other operations, as we shall see in a few weeks. Isser Harel was known to act on his instincts - which often proved him correct. He began to suspect Seidenberg. He ordered Seidenberg back from Germany, and then removed him from Intelligence in October 1956. But Seidenberg was still not arrested or even accused of anything at the time.

To soften the blow, Seidenberg was asked to write reports on his activities in Egypt and Germany. He was given access to archives, and years later, it was discovered that he took some of the top-secret documents he then had access to. He served a short prison term, but after his discharge, his father in Austria became ill and Avraham Seidenberg went to visit him. In fact he went several times. He was, however, forbidden from entering Germany. He went anyway, and he made contact with Nuri Otman, an Egyptian. Seidenberg let it be known that he was prepared to sell important information to Egypt for a sizable payment.

Isser Harel started checking on Seidenberg. He confirmed that Seidenberg was not authorized to go to Germany or to make contact with a foreign agent. "'We came to the conclusion' said Harel, "that his unlawful contacts with Nuri Otman - as deputy commander of military intelligence and head of the Egyptian Army's security services - had been in direct charge of investigating the activities of the 'Zionist network' in 1954.'" This meant that Seidenberg might very well have been a double agent working for Egypt as well as Israel. By implication this meant that he might have turned over the Jewish spy network to his Egyptian handlers, and permitted them to be caught and then jailed while he got away.

Isser Harel tricked Seidenberg to come back to Israel by offering him a nice position business-wise, while maintaining a connection with Intelligence. Seidenberg did come back to Israel at the end of 1957.

A senior Intelligence officer interviewed Seidenberg about a new position, while two other senior Intelligence officers concealed themselves "in the neighboring room with the door slightly ajar… When Avraham Seidenberg settled in his chair, the interviewing officer presented the first question: 'Tell me, Avry, could you swear by everything holy that you have never spied against the state of Israel?'

Avry hesitated for a brief moment before launching on his predictable string of denials. That moment sealed his fate." Under interrogation he denied everything. Many investigative committees were appointed. They concluded that not only had he committed perjury, but that the heads of Intelligence services had induced witnesses such as Seidenberg to commit perjury, they had lied themselves and had committed forgeries in 1954.

Investigations in his home turned up bundles of illegal, highly sensitive intelligence material. He went on trial for that and was convicted. (Nevertheless, a committee was unable to find sufficient legal material to try Seidenberg for betraying his colleagues to the Egyptian police in 1954). He claimed that the whole Intelligence Services was conspiring against him and only he was telling the truth. The court did not accept that and he was sentenced to ten years' imprisonment.

After serving his ten years as an exemplary prisoner, he was released, and briefly sold television sets in Tel-Aviv before emigrating to California in 1972, still denying everything.

All of the political rumblings were reported in the Egyptian press. From there the news filtered down to the prison. Guards and prisoners once again became hostile to them. This treatment did not last long as they went on an 11-day hunger strike, which led to better treatment. In general, they were well liked and respected, even in those tense times, by the rest of the guards and prisoners.

They had many skills that they put to good use in prison - such as photography, gardening, painting, playing basketball - and raising animals. When one of the guards saw one of Robert's paintings, he wanted one. Soon enough all the other guards did as well. In return, they would do favors for him. When they saw Victor or Philip gardening, they wanted gardens in front of their own workplaces as well. It is rather bizarre, knowing of the often vicious nature of the Arab-Israeli conflict, that one finds the status of the Jewish spies so high in Egyptian prisons. Their raising of ducks and parakeets within the prison particularly impressed the prison administration.

The duck farm was a rather amusing story in itself. Once one of the ducks began hatching eggs, they decided to ask the notoriously cruel administrator to give them an incubator. The Mudir (administrator), Immara - was enthusiastic about the project. Victor gave him a mother and three little ducks, and Immara would go every day "to feast his eyes on them." Moreover, he supported Victor's project wholeheartedly. "Anything I requested for the ducklings was provided. No sooner did I see that a rearing house was needed than carpenters were summoned and the structure went up before my very eyes. Two convicts were placed at my disposal, to grind up the food scraps from the kitchen. When the ducklings grew feathers and their time came to leave the rearing house, Immara ordered the orchestra to vacate the two rooms behind the amphitheater where it used to hold rehearsals. The rooms were converted into duck runs." Victor continued: "After a year or two, the duck farm ran the whole length of the prison wall." There was a school building attached to the prison, but "Immara ordered the pupils out and placed three of the classrooms at my disposal, to serve as rearing-rooms, this time, equipped with electric stoves. The incubator hut was now fitted out with three up-to-date incubators operating simultaneously. The kitchen scraps no longer sufficed, but Immara did not hesitate to requisition the convicts' bran to feed the ducks.'"

Immara was a very strange character. The spies knew him from another prison, ten years before, where he had been notoriously brutal, savage and cruel to the prisoners. When he came to Tura he was determined to prove himself again. He took away the accumulated belongings most prisoners had accrued in their cells. When he first arrived at Tura and saw the spies' cell, he smiled, asked how they were, didn't seem bothered by the birds twittering around in their cell, and moved on. He didn't conduct a search or confiscate a thing.

Soon after he made everyone vacate their cells and move into new ones with the exception of the Jews. Other prisoners questioned his behavior. The Jews didn't know what to make of him themselves. For a long time they assumed he showed favoritism to them because they acquired Swiss medicines for him from the outside, which were unavailable in Egypt. But this was not the only reason. "Only years later, on the eve of his release, when Victor went to Immara to say good-bye, did the Mudir reveal a further reason for the change in his attitude towards them. His brother-in-law, while serving as an army doctor at El Arish, had been taken prisoner during the Sinai campaign, and was treated well by the Israelis. 'To this day, he tells me how well your people behaved toward him.' Immara took it upon himself to repay in kind."

Immara grew to have complete confidence in Victor in particular, mainly because of the duck farm. "Matters reached such a point that even guards punished by the Mudir for some offense would plead with Victor: 'He docked me ten days' pay and I don't have enough to feed my children as it is. Please, do something for me.'" With Robert Dassa running the prison basketball team, Victor in charge of gardening and the duck farm and gardening, and Philip Nathanson holding several important posts, they all "enjoyed a position of exclusivity, with considerable freedom of movement." Their renown extended far outside the prison walls. "In Cairo's Sigan Misr, which served as a transit station for prisoners sentenced to hard labor, old lags would advise (new) prisoners on their way to Tura: 'When you get there, try to contact the three Jewish spies. They're the mukhtars (headmen) of the prison. If they want to, they can be of great help to you." It brings to mind the story of Joseph, thrown into Pharaoh's dungeons, rising to become the headmen of his prison in Egypt more than 3000 years before.

Comparatively, Marcelle Ninio did well for herself as well. People who liked her supplied her with a radio and books. She obtained writing paper and envelopes and tried her best to keep in contact with the males in the Tura prison. She also made some real friends in the prison, particularly among the nurses.

Near the end of their imprisonment the Israeli spy Wolfgang Lotz was thrown into Tura with them as well. Everyone, including the Jew, thought he was a German who had spied on behalf of Israel. After he revealed the truth to them, they took him into their inner circle, as they had done with a select group of other prisoners. Lutz, even though he had been convicted of spying for Israel, won over the guards and prisoners at Tura, just as Robert, Victor, and Philip had.

As tensions increased during the countdown to the 1967 war, there were rumors that the Jewish prisoners might be harmed. Immara made sure that didn't happen.

Israel achieved a tremendous victory in 1967. This time, Israel didn't forget her spies. Although it took months, they were finally released in February 1968. The prison guards, administration, and even many of the prisoners wished them well. They all built new lives for themselves in Israel - albeit quietly, with little fanfare. It was only some time after President Nasser's death in 1970 that the Jewish spies came forth publicly to tell their story.

[Ed. In March 2005, nearly 40 years after their release from Egyptian prisons, Marcelle Ninio, Robert Dassa, and Meir Zafran were given military ranks in the IDF in recognition of their service to the State of Israel. They are the last three surviving members of Operation Susannah, and are finally receving awards for their years of suffering. It took several years for Israel to acknowledge that it had trained a group of Egyptian Jews to carry out espionage activities in Cairo and Alexandria. The group was released in February 1968, but was unknown to the Israeli public until 1971 when Golda Meir announced she would attend Ninio's wedding. Dassa believes that his rank is the culmination of the wishes of his deceased comrades, who wanted the survivors not to rest “until the State of Israel recognizes all of us.”]



The Pedagogic Center, The Department for Jewish Zionist Education, The Jewish Agency for Israel, (c) 1992-2005, Director: Dr. Motti Friedman, Webmaster: Esther Carciente. This material may not be republished without the permission of the copyright owner.

1) Ian Black and Benny Morris - Israel's Secret Wars: A History of Israel's Intelligence Services

2) Aviezer Golan - Operation Susannah

3) Dan Raviv and Yossi Melman - Every Spy a Prince: The Complete History of Israel's Intelligence Community.
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Re: The Irgun: Bombing of the King David Hotel

Postby admin » Fri Oct 20, 2017 9:00 am

The Lavon Affair: How a false-flag operation led to war and the Israeli bomb
by Leonard Weiss
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
July 1, 2013



Leonard Weiss is a visiting scholar at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation. For more than 20 years, he worked in the US Senate as Sen. John Glenn’s staff...

The Lavon Affair, a failed Israeli covert operation directed against Egypt in 1954, triggered a chain of events that have had profound consequences for power relationships in the Middle East; the affair’s effects still reverberate today. Those events included a public trial and conviction of eight Egyptian Jews who carried out the covert operation, two of whom were subsequently executed; a retaliatory military incursion by Israel into Gaza that killed 39 Egyptians; a subsequent Egyptian–Soviet arms deal that angered American and British leaders, who then withdrew previously pledged support for the building of the Aswan Dam; the announced nationalization of the Suez Canal by Nasser in retaliation for the withdrawn support; and the subsequent failed invasion of Egypt by Israel, France, and Britain in an attempt to topple Nasser. In the wake of that failed invasion, France expanded and accelerated its ongoing nuclear cooperation with Israel, which eventually enabled the Jewish state to build nuclear weapons.
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Re: The Irgun: Bombing of the King David Hotel

Postby admin » Fri Oct 20, 2017 9:08 am

The Lavon Affair: Is History Repeating Itself?
Accessed 10/20/17



In 1954, Israeli agents working in Egypt planted bombs in several buildings, including a United States diplomatic facility, and left evidence behind implicating Egyptian Muslims as the culprits. The ruse would have worked, had not one of the bombs detonated prematurely, allowing the Egyptians to capture and identify one of the bombers, which in turn led to the round up of an Israeli spy ring.

Some of the spies were from Israel, while others were recruited from the local Jewish population. Israel responded to the scandal with claims in the media that there was no spy ring, that it was all a hoax perpetrated by "anti-Semites".

Honorable Chairman, members of the Knesset. The trial that started two days ago in Egypt against 13 Jews is disturbing everybody and brings about an emotional turmoil and deep bitterness in the country [Israel] and in the whole Jewish world. Indeed, it must cause concern and anxiety in the hearts of all justice-seeking people around the universe. The Committee for Foreign Affairs and Security has alreadv dealt and will further deal with this serious issue. But at this stage I feel obliged to make a short announcement. In my speech in the Knesset on November 15 1 said "The uncontrolled behavior of' Egypt . . . does not indicate . . . that its leadership . . . is seeking moderate approaches and peace. How far Egypt is from this spirit [of moderation and peace] can be learned from the plot woven in Alexandria, the show-trial which is being organized there against a group of Jews who became victims of false accusations of espionage, and who, it seems, are being threatened and tortured in order to extract from them confessions in imaginary crimes." This gloomy assumption was verified and was revealed to be a cruel and shocking fact, by the declaration of the accused Victorin Ninyo in the military court in Cairo that was published this morning. [According to this declaration] she was tortured during the interrogation which preceded the trial and by that torture they extracted from her false confessions to crimes which did not happen. The government of Israel strongly protests this practice, which revives in the Middle East the methods used by the Inquisition in the Middle Ages. The government of Israel strongly rejects the false accusations of the general Egyptian prosecution, which relegates to the Israeli authorities horrible deeds and diabolic conspiracies against the security and the international relations of Egypt. From this stand we have protested many times in the past persecution and false accusations of Jews in various countries. We see in the innocent Jews accused by the Egyptian authorities of such severe crimes, victims of vicious hostility to the State of Israel and the Jewish people. If their crime is being Zionist and devoted to Israel, millions of Jews around the world share this crime. We do not think that the rulers of Egypt should be interested in being responsible for shedding Jewish blood. We call upon all those who believe in peace, stability and human relations among nations to prevent fatal injustice.

But as the public trial progressed, it was evident that Israel had indeed been behind the bombing. Eventually, Israeli's Defense Minister Pinhas Lavon was brought down by the scandal, although it appears that he was himself the victim of a frame-up by the real authors of the bombing project, code named "Operation Susannah."

It is therefore a fact that Israel has a prior history of setting off bombs with the intent to blame Arabs for them.

This is not the only example of a "False Flag" operation designed to trick the United States into attacking Israel's enemies. According to Victor Ostrovsky, a Mossad defector now living in Canada, Ronald Reagan was tricked into bombing Libya by means of a radio transmitter smuggled into Tripoli by the Mossad, which broadcast messages designed to fool the United States into thinking Libya was about to launch a massive terror attack on the west. On the basis of this fake evidence, the US bombed Libya, killing Khadaffi's daughter.

The Jews of Iraq is a story by a Jewish writer revealing yet another false flag operation where Israelis used bombs and planted the blame on Arabs

More recently, Captain Ward Boston, who served as senior legal counsel for the Navy's Court of Inquiry into the Israeli attack on USS Liberty, has come forward to report that the Court of Inquiry was ORDERED to conclude that the attack was an accident by President Lyndon Johnson. In hindsight, given the use of unmarked aircraft and boats by Israel during the actual attack, it appears that Israel intended to sink the US ship and frame Egypt for the attack, tricking the US into the war against Egypt.

So, with this established history, it is now time to re-examine some facts about the World Trade Towers:

1. There is no proof at all of who was actually on the hijacked airplanes last 9/11. Even the head of the FBI admits that the only hard evidence are the names used by the hijackers on faked IDs. At least 7 of the men whose names were on those IDs have since turned up alive. Another had died back in 1999. None of the names of the alleged hijackers were on the passenger lists of the four aircraft. We do not know who was on those planes, only that we are supposed to think they were Arab Muslims.

2. The night before the attacks on the World Trade Towers, men using those stolen identities visited bars and strip clubs, making sure they would be noticed and remembered by all they met. Students of Islam will confirm that no Muslim devout enough to be willing to commit suicide would spend the night before he was to meet Allah violating so many of Islam's laws regarding alcohol and nude women. This suggests the planting of a false trail ahead of time, doubly so because we know the identities were stolen. Coupled with the deception of the faked Osama "confession" video tape , it is beyond question that deception and fraud exists in the World Trade Towers case.

3. Contrary to early reports (including a statement by George Bush) of large numbers of Israelis being killed in the 9-11 attacks, only two Israelis died, both passengers on the airplanes. No Israelis working in or near the World Trade Towers died. The foreign press has long rumored that Israelis were given an advance warning not to go to work on 9-11, and in the case of Odigo, an Israeli company with offices located near the World Trade Towers, the existence of a warning message sent before the four aircraft had even left the ground is an established fact. That someone in Israel knew of the attacks ahead of time is beyond question.

4. There is an Israeli spy ring. As in the Lavon Affair, Israeli assets have been trying to dismiss the spy ring story (apparently with the FBI's help) while accusing those who refuse to be silent of "anti-Semitism". The lesson from the Lavon case is that Israel's strident denials and smear campaigns are a sure sign that something is indeed being covered up, even as the "art students" continue to be deported. And, as a US Official stated in Carl Cameron's suppressed story on the Israeli Spy/Bugging Ring, evidence does exist that links the arrested Israeli spies with 9-11, but that this evidence has been classified by the United States Government, probably to keep from looking like total idiots at having been so easily fooled for the Nth time.

The United States has been deceived before by Israeli covert operations with the intention of harming American relations with the Arab nations. Israel has never hesitated to kill Americans (USS Liberty) or allow Americans to be killed (The bombing in Beirut that killed 241 American Marines) when it serves a purpose. And, the fact remains that Israel has exploited 9-11 from the instant when Ehud Barak appeared on the BBC moments after the attacks on the World Trade Towers (holding a prepared speech) to the aggression against the Palestinian people which has escalated non-stop ever since 9-11.

Who is responsible for the World Trade Towers attacks? We truly do not know. What we do know beyond all doubt is that someone went to a great deal of effort to provide an easy and at times all-too-obvious a target to blame. Our nation was fooled by that stunt before. The result was that our money and the blood of our children was spent to attack someone else's enemies.

There is an old saying that goes, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on ME!"

There is another saying, "We won't get fooled again!"
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Re: The Irgun: Bombing of the King David Hotel

Postby admin » Fri Oct 20, 2017 9:27 am

What if they are innocent?
April 17, 1999



A decade after Lockerbie, the West has at last got its men: two Libyans who London and Washington say planted the bomb that killed 270 people. But the case is not that open-and-shut, says Russell Warren Howe. Look at the facts, and you enter a murky world of espionage and double-bluff. Palestinian ‘terrorists', the Iranian government and Israeli intelligence each had motives for blowing up Flight PA103. So who had the most to gain?

Do spies kill spies? The answer seems self-evident -- spies killing spies is the raison d'etre of spy fiction and spy movies, from 007 to the Good Shepherd. However, what is readily believed when cast as fiction, seems just as readily rejected when proposed as an explanation for real-life events. Take the Pan Am 103 bombing -- can the fact that five secret agents were on board, accompanying a DEA drug mule, on a flight that was mysteriously half-full, a mere four days before Christmas -- be devoid of significance? When the Soviets downed KAL 007 in 1984, the presence of Larry McDonald, President of the John Birch Society, among the dead, was considered to have great significance. But five dead spies aboard Pan Am 103 provoked no similar concern. When Pan Am was sued for "willful misconduct" by the families of their dead passengers, its lawyer James M. Shaughnessy subpoenaed the CIA and DEA to obtain information relevant to the case, but never obtained a single page of evidence or a word of testimony, because the Department of Justice argued, and the trial judge agreed, that disclosing the information would endanger national security. The official investigators thus had no access to those sources of information either, and completely ignored the presence of these five international intelligence and security agents, i.e., spies, in attempting to determine the purpose, method, and perpetrators of the bombing. Here are their names and occupations:

Gannon, Matthew Kevin, foreign service officer, 34 years, born August 11, 1954, Los Angeles, California, seat number 14J. (Beirut CIA Station Chief)

McKee, Charles Dennis, army major, 40 years, born December 3, 1948, Arlington, Virginia, seat number 15F. (Defense Intelligence Agency)

LaRiviere, Ronald Albert, 33 years, born November 19, 1955, Alexandria, Virginia, seat number 20H. (Special Agent, U.S. Department of State, Diplomatic Security Service)

O'Connor, Daniel Emmett, U.S. diplomatic service, 31 years, born September 22, 1957, Dorchester, Massachusetts, seat number 25H. (Special Agent, U.S. Department of State, Diplomatic Security Service)

Curry, Joseph Patrick, army captain, 31 years, born March 21, 1957, Fort Devens, Massachusetts, seat number 44K. (Captain, U.S. Army Special Forces)

-- Spy vs. Spy, by Charles Carreon

More than ten years after the fatal crash of a Pan Am airliner on the Scottish village of Lockerbie on December 21, 1988, two Libyan Air officials who ran the airline's office in Valletta, Malta, are to go on trial before a Scottish court in Holland. They are accused of putting, or allowing to be put, into possibly unaccompanied luggage a barometrically-fused bomb that later exploded over Lockerbie.

After laborious personal intervention in Libya by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan - as well as his Swedish chief legal counsel, Hans Corell; Jakes Gerwel, director of President Nelson Mandela's private office; and Prince Bandar bin Sultan, Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the US - Libya's often eccentric leader, Colonel Muammar Gadafy, finally consented to the extradition of Abd-el Basset Megrahi and Lamin Khalifa F'hima. The word was passed by Libya's UN envoy to Annan, to whom Britain and the US had assigned the task of negotiating with Gadafy.

The notion of creating a Scottish court on a mothballed Dutch Nato base is Libyan - and original, as is the Scottish judiciary's decision to replace the normal Scottish jury of 15 persons with a three-judge bench. It was thought that to send 15 Scots (plus reserve jurors, in case of illness or death) to live in a Dutch hotel for a year or more would be an unreasonable imposition.

Once the Scottish court in exile gets organised, the trial will be lengthy, in part because of the need to interpret examination, testimony and bench rulings between four languages - Libyan Arabic, English, Maltese and German - and to translate documents and court proceedings. Witnesses will be brought and lodged, at some expense, from afar.

More often than not, whenever police anywhere arrest a murder suspect, most people assume he's guilty. And when prosecutors put him in court, a conviction is expected. Certainly, in this instance, public opinion in the US and, to a lesser extent, in Britain has been so conditioned by official statements that it is all but assumed that the Lord Advocate - Andrew, Lord Hardie, who is Scotland's chief prosecutor - has an open-and-shut case. Most relatives of the victims, especially those in the US, seem to expect the two Libyans to be sentenced to lengthy imprisonment in Scotland. This outcome is, however, far from sure: the three Scottish judges will certainly hear the theory that the suspects acted out of revenge, but they will also hear of sophisticated disinformation operations on the part of various intelligence agencies, and conflicting accounts of whether the bomb was set on its way in Valletta or Frankfurt.

The Lockerbie saga is generally believed to have begun on July 3, 1988, when a "missile-control specialist" aboard the US frigate Vincennes mistook an Iran Air airliner on a routine flight to Saudi Arabia for a MiG-25 and shot it down over the Persian Gulf, killing everyone on board. The Vincennes was escorting a Kuwaiti tanker carrying Iraqi oil and flying the Stars and Stripes, because of the eight-year war between Iran and Iraq.

President Ronald Reagan mishandled the resulting furore, hesitating to apologise for the horrific mistake and even suggesting that the airliner should have identified itself - not normal protocol. Weeks later, someone fired a shot at the wife of the Vincennes' skipper as she left a Californian supermarket - she wasn't hit, and the gunman was never found, but the incident won the attention of the Reagan administration, and compensation for the loss of life and of the aircraft was paid, albeit at the minimum rates required by international law. To add insult to injury, the Vincennes' captain received two decorations for his escort work.

By then, however, it seemed to the outside world that Tehran had already taken matters into its own hands: five-and-a-half months after the Iran Air catastrophe, Pan Am Flight 103 from Frankfurt to New York via London was blown out of the sky by a bomb, apparently fused to explode at a specific altitude - most likely, cruising altitude, usually 28,000-40,000ft for airliners flying in the jet stream. PA103's bomb may have been fused to explode at just over 28,000ft.

It may have gone off prematurely. Presumably to climb above foul weather, PA103 reached, or was approaching, its designated cruising altitude while still in the Prestwick Air Traffic Control zone - the jump-off point for many trans-Atlantic flights from Europe - and instead of conveniently disappearing without trace into the Atlantic, as an Air India plane bombed by Sikh separatists had done a few years before, came down on Lockerbie. British investigators, and specialists from the FBI and the US National Transportation and Safety Board, analysed the remains of the plane and identified a possibly unaccompanied suitcase bearing tags that, they later said, indicated that it had been marked by Libyan Air to fly on Air Malta from Valletta to Frankfurt, and then to be transferred to the Pan Am flight for London and the connecting flight to New York. Suspicion that the two Libyan Air officials in Valletta at the time, Megrahi and F'hima, were responsible was heightened by US intelligence reports that it had intercepted a radio message from Tripoli to a Libyan government office in Berlin on December 22, 1988, that said, in effect, "mission accomplished".

In 1991, armed with the details of this intercept and the results of the long investigation at Lockerbie, the UN Security Council adopted a proposal by the UK and the US that Libya allow either Scotland or the US to extradite the two officials, who had been branded "intelligence agents" by the Western press. When Libya, denying its own and the two men's involvement, declined to hand them over, the Security Council imposed sanctions in 1992, the most important of these being a ban on air links to Libya and on the sale to Libya of arms and certain oil-drilling equipment. Libya claims that the sanctions have cost it some $31 billion over the past seven years.

Libya responded with an offer to allow the two men to be extradited for trial by the country of primary jurisdiction, Malta, where the alleged crime allegedly took place. The two men publicly stated their willingness to prove their innocence in Valletta, while Malta's then chargé d'affaires in Washington said that his government was prepared to hold the trial, provided the Security Council added "Malta" to "Scotland" and "the United States" in the resolution. In anticipation of such a request, he had prepared a press kit on the Maltese judiciary: like most British ex-colonies, it doesn't have a jury system, and tries major cases before a three-judge bench. This is the system common to almost every major country - Japan, for example -without a jury-based legal system, and one that has now been copied by Scotland for this particular case; it means that the prosecutor need convince only two judges out of three, instead of 13 or 14 jurors out of 15.

President Bush said he would veto any such amendment to the Security Council resolution. John Major concurred. A State Department source told me at the time that, as Malta was so close geographically to Libya, it was feared that even a Commonwealth judiciary could be "bought".

Libya's moody leader, Muammar Gadafy, just shrugged his diplomatic shoulders and concentrated on domestic affairs. However, pressure from relatives of the dead passengers soon forced Tripoli to come up with a new initiative. In 1994, Gadafy accepted the Security Council's choice of a Scottish court, provided it sat in a neutral country, away from the lynch-mob public atmosphere in Scotland or the US. He suggested Holland, the seat of the International Court, a largely civil-law facility, but London and Washington still demurred. Then, in 1998, the UK agreed to Gadafy's plan - British diplomats assumed that the US would soon "come to heel", and it did.

Yet Libya's mistrust of the "plaintiffs", especially Washington, remained, and was returned in good measure. In 1991, soon after the original Security Council resolution, the prominent Washington lawyer Plato Cacheris (in the news more recently as Monica Lewinsky's legal advisor) took over as legal counsel to the Libyan government. He flew to Tripoli, he says, solely to explain what would happen if Libya allowed New York to extradite the two men. When I suggested to Cacheris that he surely must have told the suspects that they would inevitably be tried in advance by the media, and that it would be nearly impossible to find an unprejudiced jury and that the trial would be turned into a TV spectacular, he chuckled: "I leave it to your imagination."

But no one ever really expected Libya to choose New York, where an exuberant Israeli lobby was calling for Gadafy's head. Around two-thirds of the 259 passengers and crew killed (along with 11 Scottish townspeople) were New Yorkers or other Americans heading home for the Christmas holidays. Alastair Duff, the Edinburgh barrister who now leads the defence team with Libya's Kamal Hasan al-Maghur, went to Tripoli in 1991 to advise on the Scottish system. He is as reluctant as Cacheris to discuss what he said. He makes no criticism of the Scottish judiciary, but says that the Scottish prison system is to be avoided at all costs, especially by people who speak little English and who observe Islamic dietary and other religious requirements - and who might not be looked on kindly by Scottish convicts were they found guilty of killing 11 "guid" folk in Lockerbie.

One of Duff's first concerns, when Britain and the US finally agreed to a Scottish trial in Holland, was to obtain assurances that, if acquitted, the two men could fly home at once. The State Department, similarly distrustful, feared that, if convicted, the two men would flee. At America's behest, the Crown Office in Edinburgh insisted that the trial be held not in the UN premises of the International Court, but at Camp Zeist, a Nato facility.

The defence team agreed to Camp Zeist, but only on the understanding that, once the men were acquitted, a charter plane, probably Italian, would fly them straight home without refuelling en route. Since Scottish law does not allow bail in murder cases, the men were to be detained in the facilities for accused officers at Camp Zeist. Among the other issues that delayed the two men's arrival in Holland was US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's insistence that the prosecution be allowed to introduce secret US evidence in camera, "to protect intelligence sources". But this would raise the possibility that the court might find the two men guilty without being able to explain, publicly, why. In the event, all evidence will be public. The Lord Advocate has also agreed not to ask the men what they know about Libyan intelligence, and that they will not be re-interviewed by British or foreign (read: US) police or intelligence after the trial unless they consent to this.

Libya requested that, if convicted, the men should serve their term in Libya, Malta or Holland, but the defence, under pressure from the British Foreign Office, could only secure constant access to lawyers and medical care, the right to be monitored in prison by the UN, and, despite the absence of normal diplomatic relations between London and Tripoli, Libya's right to establish a consulate in Edinburgh to watch over the men's interests.

The defence clearly resents the pressure applied by the British Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine: "Lord Irvine's a Scot, but he presides over the English courts, not the Scottish courts. He has no more right to an opinion in this case than has Boris Yeltsin!" says their barrister, Alastair Duff.

To say that Gadafy and his cabinet are now entirely comfortable with seeing the two Libyans placed beyond their protection would be an exaggeration: for the trial to become possible it took assurances from the Arab League and the Organisation of African Unity (Libya is a member of both) to watch over the two men's safety and rights.

Now, as a trial looms, some basic questions remain, and various theories abound: Why was Libya thought to have gone out on a limb to avenge a non-Arab country, Iran? Was Iran "fingered" simply because it had a motive?

Why was the authenticity of US intelligence's Tripoli-Berlin intercept not challenged by Washington and London, given the fact that a similar intercept had earlier been mistakenly used by the Reagan regime to blame Libya for a bomb which exploded at a Berlin club on April 5, 1986, and to justify the US bombing of Tripoli and Benghazi nine days later, which killed Gadafy's infant adopted daughter in a brash attempt to kill the Libyan leader himself? Although Britain had accepted the authenticity of the intercept concerning the bombing of the La Belle disco - in which two American soldiers and a Turkish girl were killed - and allowed the US Air Force to take off on the raid from Lakenheath, France and Germany were unconvinced and concluded that the bomb had been the work of local Iranian militants.

Victor Ostrovsky, a Canadian former intelligence colonel with Israel's Mossad secret service and author of the bestseller By Way Of Deception (the title comes from the Mossad motto), will testify that it was Mossad commandos who set up the transmitter in Tripoli that generated a false signal about the "success" of the Berlin bomb - he has already given a detailed description of this daring operation in his second book, The Other Side Of Deception. Ostrovsky, who will testify by closed-circuit television from somewhere in North America - he fears that, if he comes to Holland, he may be "Vanunu-ed" (ie kidnapped and smuggled back to Israel) for breaking his secrets oath - will state that the Lockerbie intercept so resembles the La Belle intercept as to have probably the same provenance. This is what US lawyers call the "duck" argument: "If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and waddles, the preponderance of evidence is that it is a duck."

Ostrovsky's evidence would then put the onus on the Lord Advocate to prove that the Lockerbie intercept is genuine, not disinformation. Ostrovsky believes that, in both bombings, Israel implicated Libya to shield Iran, thereby encouraging Iran not to persecute its small Jewish community. For the defence, a key element will be: did Iran play any role at all in the crime that "avenged" Iran Air? Or did Mossad delude London, Washington and the Security Council not to divert suspicion from Iran but from their own alleged "active measures" against the airliner?

Pan Am's insurers, in anticipation of lawsuits from victims' families (which were eventually to contribute to the famous old airline's bankruptcy), carried out its own investigation. This came up with revelations even more startling than Ostrovsky's. The investigative agency retained by the airline was Interfor, a New York firm founded by Yuval Aviv, a former Mossad staffer who emigrated to America in 1979. Aviv's task was to prove that any blame for poor security was not Pan Am's, but Frankfurt airport's. In his report, he cites, without identifying them, six broad intelligence sources whom he rates as "good" or "very good", and one intelligence agency, that of a "Western-oriented government", graded "excellent". The only other "excellent" source is "the experienced director of airport security for the most security-conscious airline". Clearly, the agency is Aviv's old shop, Mossad, and the airline is Israel's El Al.

In his new book on Mossad, Gideon's Spies, Gordon Thomas says that - according to a source at LAP, the psychological warfare wing of Mossad - "within hours of the crash, staff at LAP were working the phones to their media contacts urging them to publicise that here was ‘incontrovertible proof' that Libya, through its intelligence service, Jamahirya, was culpable".

Yet Aviv proved fairly convincingly that the bomb was placed in Frankfurt, and he implicated a Palestinian resistance movement. His Interfor report concludes that the bombing was directed not at the US airliner per se, but at a small unit of US military intelligence - members of the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) - that had uncovered a drugs-smuggling ring in Lebanon.

The ring was run by a "rogue" CIA unit working in collusion with Hizbullah, the resistance movement to Israeli occupation of south Lebanon. Some of the funds generated were intended to buy the freedom of six US hostages held by Hizbullah (which was bankrolled by Iran). DIA sources say that the CIA-Hizbullah drug ring was set up by Mossad agents, who had penetrated Hizbullah and were the local Arabic-speaking traffic managers for the CIA. At the same time, Israel would sell elderly US missiles, at ample profit, to Iran; a skim from both drugs and arms profits would be used, as part of Irangate, to subsidise the Contras, the right-wing terrorist movement in Nicaragua so favoured by Reagan and the iniquitous Oliver North.

Aviv carefully doesn't mention Mossad's role in all this, but implies that his detailed revelations come from his "excellent" (ie Mossad) source. It is certainly a known fact that Washington, while tilting toward Iraq in the Iraq/Iran war (and escorting its tankers), sent a delegation to Tehran to arrange the purchase of the Israeli missiles - which would, of course, be used against Iraq.

The Interfor report affirms that the Samsonite suitcase containing the bomb, adorned with luggage tags indicating that it originated from Valletta, actually began its journey in Frankfurt, where it was substituted for a suitcase of a similar kind. Aviv claims that German security has videotape of a Muslim luggage-handler taking the case into Frankfurt airport, but says that this tape was "lost" and that the CIA refuses to produce its own copy.

Without contradicting Aviv, Thomas and others believe the tagging and smuggling aboard of the lethal suitcase can most easily be ascribed to a sayan or mabuah working for Mossad, which had a motive for eliminating certain passengers. (A sayan is a Jew who puts loyalty to Israel above loyalty to his own country and does services, usually unpaid, for Mossad; according to Thomas, the most famous sayan working in the UK was Robert Maxwell. A mabuah is a Gentile who fulfils the same role.)

The report says that the CIA-Hizbullah drugs habitually travelled to New York under CIA protection, in baggage marked "inspected" by a Turkish baggage-handler at Frankfurt and substituted for a legitimate piece of baggage, so that the number of luggage items tallied with the airline's manifest. According to Aviv, a Palestinian group had learned of the CIA-Hizbullah-Mossad drugs traffic, and had got a Syrian baggage-handler to make a similar substitution to put the case with a bomb on board Flight PA103. Aviv still believes this to be the explanation for the disaster; but he has no name for the Syrian, or for the Turk involved in the drug shipments. How many Syrians could there possibly have been on the airport's payroll?

(The Valletta-Frankfurt-London-New York baggage tags, and the "inspected" label, if they bear the two Libyans' fingerprints, could have been transferred to the bomb case at Valletta or Frankfurt. Air Malta won a libel case in Britain that established that it had not put an "unaccompanied" bag on the plane.)

Many eventualities spring from Aviv's conclusions. Aviv thinks Ahmed Gibril of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine General Command learned that US intelligence officers were on the flight and colluded with others to bomb it. The others were said to be Monzer al-Kassar, a "major arms and drug smuggler" and brother-in-law to the Syrian intelligence chief, and the notorious Abu Nidal. Aviv says that Gibril had meetings with al-Kassar (a double if not triple agent) in Paris, with Abu Nidal in Warsaw and, later, with Khalid Jafar, the drugs mule, and a Libyan bomb-maker in Bonn. He says that the bomb components were assembled in Sofia, and transported to Paris by al-Kassar's sister-in-law, whence al-Kassar drove them to Frankfurt. There, Aviv's Interfor report says, they were handed over to a Palestinian group that included Marwan Khrisat, an informant for the BKA (a branch of German intelligence).

Both the BKA and the CIA had previously given al-Kassar the green light for his smuggling route to the US, says Aviv, in return for his help in "arranging the release of the American hostages" (only one of whom was released).

Gordon Thomas, meanwhile, recounts how a Mossad officer from the London station turned up in Lockerbie the morning after the crash, and arranged for the removal of a suitcase belonging to a US intelligence captain in the DIA, Charles McKee, who had been in Lebanon trying to procure the release of the hostages. When it was eventually returned to Scottish investigators by British intelligence, says Thomas, the case was empty and undamaged. Why, Thomas asks, would McKee put an empty suitcase aboard?

McKee's case was found after the crash by Jim Wilson of Tundergarth Mains farm, and contained what looked to Wilson like cocaine samples. Within a day or so of the bombing, two planeloads of what appeared to be US intelligence people had arrived at the site, and a Scottish radio reporter, David Johnston, soon got wind of a rumour that the bomb's target had been a group of US intelligence officials travelling back from Beirut.

Indeed, the most interesting passengers on the feeder flight from Frankfurt and the main Pan Am flight from Heathrow were not the American students going home for the holidays, but two antagonistic groups of US intelligence officers - McKee and three of his DIA staff, and Matthew Gannon, the CIA's deputy stationmaster in Beirut, and three of his men. The Gannon quartet took the Air Malta flight from Valletta to Frankfurt, and Thomas believes it was probably Gannon's suitcase, being under CIA protection from inspection, that was substituted, together with the Air Malta tags, by the suitcase containing the bomb.

DIA sources say that when McKee boarded the flight in Frankfurt, having flown there from Limassol, his case presumably contained his files on the CIA-Hizbullah-Mossad drugs ring - he had been in Beirut negotiating for the hostages in a straightforward manner, but had discovered the undercover CIA operation. It was not known whether he also had drug samples as evidence, though these might conceivably have been "planted" at Frankfurt. Was Gannon's CIA team returning home to explain why they were collaborating with Mossad and Hizbullah in the drug scheme? If so, had they therefore become as expendable to Mossad as McKee's group?

Defence sources in Washington agree with Aviv that McKee's group had been frustrated by the cover-up of the CIA drugs scheme, and was returning home to insist that it be exposed. Aviv claims that al-Kassar had warned his drugs-ring controller of what McKee planned to do. The Interfor report states: "Two or three days before the disaster, a BKA undercover agent reported to his controller a plan to bomb a Pan Am flight in the next few days," but the CIA "did not want to… risk the al-Kassar hostage-release operation." Soon after, a BKA informer reported that a "drug suitcase" being carried into the airport, as shown on his videotape, was "different in make, shape, material and colour" from the ones normally used. Interfor says that CIA control, when informed, said: "Don't worry about it. Don't stop it." It presumably assumed it was just a genuine drug shipment.

Since Gannon's CIA team, in its ignorance, joined Flight PA103, only two culprits for the bombing would seem to remain, if Aviv's information is accurate: either Aviv's devious conspiracy involving two rival Palestinian "terrorists", Ahmed Gibril and Abu Nidal, running all over Europe, or alternatively Mossad itself, which would be reluctant to tolerate McKee and Gannon exposing Israel's connection to Hizbullah drugs.

It might seem barely credible that Mossad would carry out such an attack; however, both Gordon Thomas and Richard Curtiss, the former US diplomat who now edits the Washington Report On Middle East Affairs, point out that Mossad knew of the Islamic fundamentalists' plan to bomb the US Marine barracks in Lebanon in 1983, but had withheld the information in the correct belief that the bombing would drive the US military out of Lebanon, which it saw as Israel's bailiwick - 241 marines were killed.

Assuming that, as the Scottish reporter David Johnston discovered within a day or so of the disaster, the targets of the bomber were the two teams of US intelligence officers, and McKee's files, and that the suitcase carrying the bomb was meant to be seen as a drugs bag, Interfor's "Syrian" - if he existed - could well have been a mabuah under Mossad control. Alternatively, he could have been a patsy: a Syrian who thought he was under orders from Ahmed Gibril or someone else to do something for the Arab cause, but who had actually been false-flagged by an Israeli agent.

McKee's files in Washington remain unavailable to the defence. Officially, Gannon's suitcase was never found, says Thomas. Aviv says he does not challenge anything in Thomas's book. He will testify at the trial if invited to, although he says that, "The defence already has all it needs to prove that Libya and the Libyans were not involved."

For exposing the drug-smuggling aspects of Irangate, Aviv became the victim of a US government campaign to discredit him: his New York office was mysteriously burgled; his US government contracts were cancelled; and he was charged with "defrauding" a company, GE Capital, over a report he had done for them on security in the Caribbean (the jury dismissed the case against him in just over an hour after the judge excoriated the FBI for bringing a harassing case even though GE Capital had made no complaint).

So why is the case against the two Libyans being brought? Does the Lord Advocate know something that Yuval Aviv and Victor Ostrovsky don't? Ostrovsky should make an impressive witness, albeit an understandably paranoid one. Not long after I interviewed him, in Ottawa, in March 1995, while an armed bodyguard watched over us, his home in the Canadian capital's suburbs was burned down. Fortunately, neither Ostrovsky nor his files were there at the time.

Aviv's suspicions began with a Palestinian living in Finland. He was arrested, and released. So was almost everyone on Aviv's list, down to Marwan Khrisat, the informer for Germany's BKA. Some CIA sources theorise that, by 1991, with the West's war with Iraq making it necessary to court Iran and even Syria, deflecting responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing towards a Palestinian group became an increasingly attractive option. Or, perhaps, in Aviv's case, it was just second nature for an Israeli.

A former DIA operative, Lester Coleman, in his 1993 book, The Trail Of The Octopus, revived the drugs-ring story. The American security apparatus jumped on Coleman with both feet, forcing him to seek asylum in Sweden, where he was accused of using a false passport, even though he'd been ordered to take on a false identity by the Drug Enforcement Agency, and ended up serving six months for perjury. Both he and Aviv are now considering bringing lawsuits against the US Government. And in Britain in 1994, a Channel 4 film, The Maltese Double Cross, was banned from the London Film Festival, while a gallery that subsequently showed it was the victim of both burglary and arson. The hounding of the British film and the calvary of Coleman, whose book is still unpublished in America, certainly seem to have the pawprints of Mossad on them. Meanwhile, a US public-television documentary that accepted the theory that the Palestinian Ahmed Gibril was responsible for the bombing remained unmolested.

Why a secular, even Marxist, Arab nationalist would want to avenge a regime of rather bigoted Persian religious zealots was never explained. If the bombing really was revenge for the US Navy's lethal recklessness, why would Iran, the biggest military power in the Gulf, need the help of a Palestinian cell in Damascus? Alternatively, if Palestinian nationalists were whacking one of Uncle Sam's 747s just to show the world that they existed, why were they sheltering behind Iran's coat-tails and not claiming the credit? Reagan made a contemptible mistake in sending an air armada to bomb Libya because of an act of violence in Berlin that German intelligence had traced to local Iranian zealots. In spite of that false intercept from the Tripoli transmitter, President Bush, who had been vice-president under Reagan, made a political decision in 1991 to believe the "mission accomplished" message about Lockerbie. Or did he? He is reliably reported to have warned Margaret Thatcher to "low-key" any statements about Libyan involvement in Lockerbie.

Since 1993, Bill Clinton has continued to pursue Bush's sanctions against Libya. As Ostrovsky says, there is clearly a reluctance to admit that, perhaps, mistakes have been made - and a consequent inclination to plunge further into the quicksands and disinclination to share the truth with the public.
It remains up to three Scottish judges to wash their hands of Anglo-American politics and judge the case on its merits, or lack of them.

It is, of course, entirely possible that Megrahi and F'hima are being framed. It is also possible - if, despite the Interfor report's conclusions, the bomb began its journey in Valletta, as Lord Hardie seems confident of proving - that the two relatively junior airline officials were dupes, false-flagged by an Iranian or Libyan sayan who convinced them that it was the wish of Gadafy and Libyan intelligence that they mark as "inspected" a certain unaccompanied suitcase. If so, they would be guilty, under Scottish law, of being accessories to murder if they knew the suitcase contained a bomb; or, if they assumed it was just drugs, of a grave breach of international security.

Whether or not they were complicit, a bomber placing his device aboard an Air Malta feeder flight would run the risk that it would detonate before reaching Frankfurt if the aircraft reached jet-stream altitudes over the Alps. Duff may say that his clients don't know if their office in Valletta was used to handle the suitcase or not. The Air Malta tags could have been put on anywhere in Valletta. If the Libyan Air office was, in fact, used, this could be because an Iranian spoke Farsi and some Arabic but not much English and no Maltese, or because he felt he could bluff his way past a minor Arab airline more easily than past Air Malta, which is trained by British Airways.

The fact is, the bombed plane was Pan Am, not Air Malta. Yuval Aviv is confident that the bomb was "launched" in Frankfurt. Lord Hardie will seek to prove otherwise. The high-level mediators with Gadafy say he is confident that, unless the court is manipulated by false evidence, his two officials will be acquitted. Even if Megrahi and F'hima are found guilty of the most serious charges, there would still be a need for a new investigation: to decide what was Israel's possibly major role in mass murder and deception of its main benefactor, the US, and of the Security Council, and/or whether it was an Iranian "caper" after all.

It is easy to see why Washington, which is poised to restore relations with Tehran and which tends to catch a cold if the Israeli lobby sneezes, would sleep better at night if the Scottish judges find it was all a Libyan mission. After all, a French court, without hearing defence evidence, recently found six Libyans guilty in absentia of bombing a French airliner in equatorial Africa a decade ago.

Meanwhile, the story of who was behind the bomb on Flight PA103 reads more like Len Deighton in his Cold-War prime than the establishment media may have led us to expect. n Russell Warren Howe is the author of 17 books, including three on victims of miscarriages of justice, and a prize-winning novel, False Flags. For the past decade, he has followed the Lockerbie case for Al-Wasat, the Arab world's weekly news magazine.
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