Jerusalem (Jun. 18)
The long-smoldering conflict between the Haganah and the terrorist groups flared into open warfare today when the Haganah foiled a daring attempt by the Irgun to blow up British civil and military headquarters in Tel Aviv, losing one member in the process.
A loud blast at 11:30 this morning brought police to the neighborhood of the headquarters, in Citrus House, where they found that a tunnel leading to the building from the cellar of a neighboring house had been blown up. In the debris they found the body of Zeev Verber, 20, a Haganah member. Near him lay a note reading: “The Haganah will not let you carry out your machinations. We warn you.” The police cordened off the entire area, and arrested the occupants of the house where the tunnel originated.
As far as can be ascertained, the following occurred: Learning of the attempt to blow up Citrus House, the Haganah sent a heavy truck filled with sacks of cement to the scene of the digging with the intention of blocking up the tunnel. Verber, who was one of the 14 men in the truck, dismounted and attempted to dismantle the nine, which exploded. The truck disappeared before the police arrived.
HAGANAH AND IRGUN DUEL OVER AIR WAVES FOLLOWING INCIDENT
In a broadcast tonight the Haganah said that it had sacrificed the life of one of its young members to save Tel Aviv from disaster, but stressed that its action should not be interpreted as collaboration with the government, although it will continue to fight “gun in hand” to “root out the terrorist cancer from the Yishuy.”
Simultaneously, the Irgun broadcast an attack on the Haganah for today’s operations, charging it with working with the government, “which leads Jews to the gallows.” The broadcast asserted that before the split between the resistance groups developed, the government had not dared to execute Jews. It accused the Haganah of preparing a “St. Bartholomew’s Night” for the Irgun. The broadcast reiterated that the Irgun will not be deflected from its aims.
In an earlier clash, Haganah members last night prevented Sternists from posting leaflets in the colony of Raanana. Three persons were wounded, one seriously, in an exchange of fire.
JEWISH PRISONERS CALL HUNGER STRIKE IN SYMPATHY WITH DOOMED YOUTHS
More than 100 Jewish prisoners in the Jerusalem prison went on a hunger strike yesterday when they learned that death sentences had been imposed on three Irgunists convicted of participation in the Acre jail break last month. A delegation of the strikers which was received by the prison superintendent today presented the following demands for forwarding to the authorities: 1. Abolition of the death sentence. 2. Cessation of the deportation of political prisoners. 3. The treatment of political prisoners as war prisoners. 4. Abolishment of military courts.
Immediately after the strike broke out, the three condemned men, Abshalom Habib, Jacob Weiss and Meir Nakar, were moved to Acre Prison under heavy military guard, amid great secrecy. They were placed in the cell where Dov Gruner spent the last few days before his execution.
The families of the striking prisoners announced that they had also gone on a hunger strike and would continue to fast until sunset today. Meanwhile, the families of the doomed youths sent a memorandum to the U.N. inquiry committee, asking it to intervene with the government to secure commutation of the death sentences. The Chief Rabbinate and Mayor Israel Ro?ach of Tel Aviv are to appeal to the High Commissioner and the British military commander for clemency. The Agency also broached the possibility of clemency to the authorities, but was turned down. It is feared, therefore, that the government is determined to execute the three.
POLICE OFFICER WHO ABDUCTED JEWISH YOUTH EXTRADITED FROM SYRIA
The government announced today that Maj. J. H. Farran, the Assistant Superintendent of the Palestine Police who is suspected of being involved in the abduction and probable killing last month of 17-year-old Alexander Rubovitz, has been extradited from Syria, and is now under arrest here “on a serious charge.” Two of his associates who fled with him to Syria are still there. Meanwhile, a police spokesman told Rubovitz’ parents that the police have been unable to trace him.
A high government official is reported today to have told a representative of the Middle East Red Cross who is now visiting Palestine that the authorities are preparing to deport all terrorist suspects held in the Latrun detention camp to internment camps in Kenya, which already hold 250 to 300 Palestinian Jews.
The bulk of those held at Latrun have never been tried, or even informed of the charges against them. Recently, High Commissioner Sir Alan G. Cunningham recommended that all political detainees in Palestine be sent to Kenya to avoid the possibility of another jail delivery such as the Acre prison break.