Jerusalem (Dec. 30)
British troops in Palestine were placed on virtual battle footing today as rigorous searches were carried out in various parts of the country for the extremists who yesterday flogged a British officer and three noncommissioned officers in retaliation for the official whipping of a 16-year-old Irgunist who was convicted of complicity in a bank robbery.
Nathanya, which was the scene of the flogging of Major Paddy Brett, was completely surrounded by large detachments of troops, as was Petach Tikvah. Hundreds of troops meanwhile combed all roads in the Lydda district, and Tel Aviv was cut off from Jerusalem and Haifa. Vehicles bound for Tel Aviv were halted at the outskirts of the city and forced to return.
A curfew was clamped down on Petach Tikvah and on all roads in the Lydda district and part of Samaria, affecting a large number of Jewish settlements. Troops and police were alerted at all military installations and police stations and told to stand by.
High military authorities met all day to discuss measures to prevent recurrence of the floggings. The first measures announced placed all Jewish towns and settlements out of bounds and ordered troops to carry arms at all times and not appear in the streets in groups of less than four.
Meanwhile, Lieut. Gen. Sir Evelyn Barker, British commander-in-chief in Palestine, confirmed a sentence of twelve lashes imposed on another Irgunist, 17-year-old Aron Cohen.
JEWISH AGENCY AND JEWISH NATIONAL COUNCIL CONDEMN FLOGGINGS
The Jewish Agency and the executive of the Jewish National Council today condemned the whipping of the soldiers but at the same time the Council sent a memorandum to the High Commissioner protesting against the use of corporal punishment. The Council also protested against the recent attacks upon Jews by soldiers in various parts of the country.
The most recent incident occurred today in Jerusalem when several Jews were beaten when they ignored orders from soldiers to remove the posters of terrorist organizations from public walls.
Four Jews who were captured yesterday at Beit Degan, outside Tel Aviv, when the taxi in which they were travelling attempted to break through a road block, were badly beaten by soldiers and one was shot. Military authorities say that whips, rifles and ammunition were found in the taxi.
A warning that it will take stronger measures if the flogging of its members continues was voiced today by the Irgun in a statement sent to newspapers and news agencies. It read as follows:
“Firstly, despite our public warning, British General Sir Evelyn Barker confirmed the humiliating punishment of flogging imposed on one of our soldiers by an unlawful British court and carried out Friday. To this barbarous act of the oppressors we reacted by flogging a major and three sergeants. We now warn that if the oppressors dare harm the bodies of Jewish youths, or their personal and national pride, we will not reply any more with whips, but with fire so that barbarism may be abolished in Palestine.
“Secondly,” the statement continued, “regarding the killing of a man named by the Italian police as Zev Epstein, and described as the head of the Irgun in Europe, we appeal to the Italian Government to appoint a neutral inquiry commission to investigate the circumstances of Epstein’s death. We have reason to believe that this was murder committed by a British agent in the Italian police and the announcement that Epstein had ‘attempted to escape’ was only an excuse to conceal murder without trial within dark prison walls.”
GOVERNMENT ASKS MAYORS OF JEWISH TOWNS TO COOPERATE IN SEARCH
Before beginning the searches in the Lydda and Nathanya districts, the authorities notified the mayors of all towns in the area and urged them and their communities to cooperate so that the searches might be carried out with as little inconvenience as possible to those innocent of any wrong doing.
Moshe Saadia, who was referred to in an announcement by the Stern Group as an associate of Israel Levin, who was “executed” by the Sternists last week for allegedly acting as an informer for the British, was kidnapped from his home in Jerusalem last night. According to his family, the kidnappers said that he was being taken before a Sternist “court” for investigation.
One Jewish prisoner was seriously injured today during a clash between British guards and Jewish detainees in the Latrun internment camp, it was announced tonight. The wounded man, whose name was not given, was transferred to a military hospital in Jerusalem.