39-year-old Dutch-born Jew, a Survivor of Bergen-belsen, Hanged in Iraq As an Israeli Spy
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39-year-old Dutch-born Jew, a Survivor of Bergen-belsen, Hanged in Iraq As an Israeli Spy

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A 39-year-old Dutch-born Jew was hanged yesterday in Iraq as an Israeli spy, it was learned today from relatives in Israel. The man, Alexander Leon Aharonson, whom the Iraqi authorities identified as Alexander Haroun, was a survivor of the Bergen Belsen concentration camp. He had devoted his life to tending the sick and injured in disaster areas all over the world including India, Biafra and Bangladesh.

Aharonson disappeared in northern Iraq where he was serving as a male nurse to the Kurds. He had refused to leave with other foreigners when the Kurdish rebellion collapsed last March.

Representations by Dutch authorities at the behest of his family in Holland who had asked Queen Juliana to intervene, yielded no information from the Iraqi authorities until yesterday’s terse announcement that Aharonson had been tried by a revolutionary tribunal in Baghdad last month and sentenced to death by hanging.

Israeli sources branded as ridiculous the Iraqi claim that Aharonson was an Israeli agent who had once served in the Israeli army. According to the Iraqis, he was in possession of classified military and political information for Israeli intelligence when he was arrested March 24, The Iraqis said Aharonson served as an ad visor to the Kurdish rebel leader Gen. Mustafa Barzani.


Relatives and friends in Israel said Aharonson had lived in Israel for several years as a tourist but retained his Dutch citizenship and passport. His wife, who is non-Jewish, lives in a village near Kroningen where Aharonson was born. They have four children, three of them adopted and one of the latter the son of a Palestinian refugee, sources here said. Aharonson’s mother, also a Bergen-Belsen survivor, and his step-father live in Holland. He left Holland for the Middle East last winter and his last letter to his family was dated March 13.

Aharonson was described as a humanitarian whose experiences at Bergen Belsen made him determined to help needy people of all races. Trained as a medical nurse, he worked for some time at the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Africa, helped the sick and hungry in Biafra, India and Pakistan, and spent some time in the Virgin Islands. He was in Israel between 1954-58.

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