Jerusalem (Aug. 27)
The details of secret agreement between British military headquarters and the Jewish Agency for Jewish assistance to British troops who stood alone against Field Marshal Erwin Rommel when he was storming the defenses of Egypt, will be published tomorrow in the magazine “Palestine and the Middle East.”
The agreement provided for the establishment of the Palmach, Jewish assault troops, as partisan units whose duties, objectives and organizational structure was strictly limited and defined by the British military authorities. Special training centers were established, one of them at Yagur, which was recently raided by British troops in Palestine who unearthed a quantity of arms there.
The existence of the agreement was kept a “top military secret” and even local police officials were not informed of it. The British provided experts to train the Haganah and the Palmach. Later they formed special Jewish radio squads as well as commando groups throughout Palestine and Syria to maintain contact among the various units of the British forces in the Middle East.
BRITISH TRAINED JEWISH COMMANDO UNITS AND HAGANAH FOR PALESTINE DEFENSE
A commando unit for the Balkan countries was later added to the Palmach. Detailed plans and maps for every event–if Rommel’s army should penetrate Palestine–were worked out jointly by the British military headquarters and the Palmach. Several weeks before Gen. Montgomery’s attack at El Alamein, the commander of the British commando troops participated in a Palmach parade and addressed the unit.
The Solel-Boneh, Jewish building cooperative, under the supervision of David Hacohen, who is now held in the Latrun detention camp, constructed secret fortresses. Hacohen’s home in Haifa served as a Liaison point for inter-military headquarters when British troops were operating against the Vichy French administration in Syria.
One of the details of the general plan was that Haifa was to become a second Tobruk and that Jewish commandos were to defend the city to the last. When news arrived that Rommel was receiving reinforcements, especially airborne troops, British military headquarters asked the Haganah to prepare detailed plans for the immediate defense of Jewish and Arab districts alike. Facing a shortage of arms, the British military leaders asked the Haganah to arm their people from their own stores, which are now being sought by British troops.
A special force of German-speaking Jews was also set up to infiltrate and operate behind enemy lines. One such unit was named for Peter Haas, a Jewish commando leader who fell during an attack upon a German camp in Cyrenaica. Jewish refugees, some of who are among those now deported to Cyprus, then reported the movement and disposition of enemy forces all over Europe, the article discloses.