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Palestine Jew Sentenced to Death While Reading Bible; Refuses to Plead for Clemency

The Jewish community in Palestine was stunned today by an announcement that Menahem Alkalay, 24-year-old alleged member of the Stern Group charged with participating in a raid on the Haifa railway yards June 17, was sentenced to death by a military court here.

The sentence is subject to confirmation by Gen. Sir Evelyn Barker, Military Commander in Palestine, who yesterday commuted to life imprisonment the death sentence imposed on 18 youths convicted of taking part in the same raid. Four girls convicted of the same charge were given life terms.

Alkalay, whose legs were seriously injured in the Haifa incident, lay strapped to a stretcher reading the Bible throughout the court proceedings. He did not reply when the court asked him if he wished to make a plea for clemency or defend himself. He received the sentence with no apparent emotion and was handcuffed before being carried away in his stretcher.

A Jewish Agency spokesman said today that commutation of the death sentence to life imprisonment for the 18 youths “could be expected to have a calming effect on the Jewish community and comes as a most welcome step.”