Nathanya Jew Flee City; Fear Reprisals by Soldiers for Hanging of British Sergeants
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Nathanya Jew Flee City; Fear Reprisals by Soldiers for Hanging of British Sergeants

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Nathanya was a dead city today as apprehensive residents moved to Tel Aviv or neighboring settlements, fearing retaliation by British troops for the hanging by the Irgun of the two sergeants whose bodies were discovered this morning in an orange grove three miles from Nathanya. Earlier, the local district commissioner had said that “there will be no reprisals or military law.”

High Commissioner Sir Alan G. Cunningham called Mrs. Goldie Meirson, political chief of the Agency here, to urgent talks at Government House, during which it is reported he demanded complete cooperation of the Jewish community in ferreting out the persons responsible for the hanging and threatened severe measures. At the same time, the Tel Aviv district commissioner summoned Mayor Israel Rokach to his office, and the Jerusalem district commissioner called on Chief Rabbi Isaac Herzog.

A spokesman for the Agency appealed to the government not to take steps which would plunge the country into “additional suffering and misery, which could only serve to aid and comfort those irresponsible criminals who committed this outrage.”


Jewish institutions and spokesmen, including the Agency and the Jewish National Council, issued strong statements condemning in uncompromising terms the “execution” of the two Britons. Laborite circles demanded that the Haganah immediately launch a full-scale campaign against the extremists, who announced that every reprisal taken by the government would be met by further attacks. “The situation today is so grave that we will attack day and night,” the Irgun warned this afternoon.

Meanwhile, troops poured into the Nathanya areas, every foot of which is being combed. Mayor Oved Ben Ami expressed the sorrow and indignation of the city’s population to the British commander, who replied that he did not hold the residents responsible for the outrage, but considered the perpetrators of the crime to be “murderers.”

Isaac Ben Zvi, president of the Jewish National Council, in an exclusive statement to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, said that “the Yishuv has heard with the utmost indignation the news of the abominable murder of two innocent people committed despite the strong warning issued by the Council. The mark of Cain has been engraved upon the murderers’ forehead by this act.”

A joint Agency-Council statement said: “We have no words to express execration of the dastardly murder of two innocent men by a band of criminals impervious to the voice of conscience, who have arrogated to themselves the power to decide matters of life and death. We call on the Yishuv and the whole Jewish people to stand on our aids, fighting the ghastly evil which has befallen us until its complete eradication. We express our deep and heartfelt sympathy to the relatives of the innocent victims and beg them and their people not to identify the Jewish people, engaged in an effort to rebuild a national life, with the perpetrators of this foul murder”


The horror felt here was heightened by the Irgun’s booby-trapping the bodies, resulting in the corpses being blasted to pieces and the injury of an officer leading the first official party to arrive on the scene. The bodies were discovered early this morning by Jewish supernumerary police — who reportedly had been sent out by Ben Ami after he had been informed that a Haganah patrol had discovered the dead sergeants during the night. The Haganah had been searching for the soldiers since Tuesday.

Police using mine detectors searched Histadruth headquarters in Jerusalem today, but found nothing. Official communiques issued tonight disclosed that a freight train was derailed by a mine year Benyamina, injuring the fireman, and a policeman was wounded when a six-man patrol was attacked by nine extremists, who fled with the police weapons, after leaving a bandage for his comrades to treat the wounded constable.

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