Israel Delivers Reply to Sweden on Bernadotte’s Assassination; Admits Police Failure

The Israel Government today delivered its reply to recent Swedish criticism of the investigation into the assassination of Count Folke Bernadotte, late U.N. Palestine mediator, who met his death in Jerusalem in the fall of 1943. The reply was delivered here today to the Swedish Foreign Ministry by Dr. Walter Eytan, director-general of the Israel Foreign Ministry.

In its reply the Israel Government accepts the conclusions reached by a special Israel committee appointed to study the charges made in a Swodish memorandum delivered to the new state last March. This committee established that from a technical police viewpoint the Swedish chief prosecutor was correct in establishing the following gaps and missions during the police inquiry conducted by Israel in connection with the U.N. mediator’s assassination:

1. Failure to take steps for apprehension of the criminals; 2. Failure to immediately cordon off the scene of the crime; 3. Delay in carrying out a thorough examination on the scene of the crime; 4. Failure to examine the leading vehicle of Count Bernadotte’s convoy and delayed examination of Bernadotte’s own vehicle; 5. Failure to collect evidence from the four members of Bernadotte’s party; 6. Failure to examine the weapons of Stern Group bases in Jerusalem and ineffectual examination of cartridge cases found on the scene; 7. Inability to apprehend the jeep used by the assailants and failure to attempt its identification with that of vehicles taken from members of the Stern Group; 8. Failure to conduct an “identification parade” of suspects.

Explaining the shortcomings of the dual investigation conducted by the Israel Army and Police in Jerusalem immediately after the assassination, the Israel reply says that these shortcomings were due to lack of proper central government control owing to various chaotic factors created by the war in Jerusalem at that time.

“Ultimately the responsibility for what happened and for the organizational deficiency which has since come to light is the government’s,” the memorandum says. It emphasizes that the Israel Government “will bear its responsibility before history.” At the same time the document stresses that the Jerusalem police force at that period was “in a particularly poor and inchoate shape and had hardly adapted itself to the new conditions created by Israel’s independence.”

The reply points out that the Israel Government hopes that “this unhappy incident which marred the history of the state of Israel and cast a shadow over relations between Sweden and Israel will now be brought to a close.” The Jewish people, the memorandum says, has every cause to be grateful to the people of Sweden, especially to Count Bernadotte for their ceaseless activities during World War II on behalf of the victims of Nazi persecution.

“Israel, too, recalls with gratitude Bernadotte’s sincere efforts for restoring peace to the Holy Land,” the memorandum continues. “The differences of opinion which might have existed over the best means to achieve this will not lose him his honored place in history. The good work he did during his lifetime is his lasting memorial,” the reply concluded.

NEXT STORY