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Hanging of Irgunists Considered Move by Palestine Govt. to Provoke Disturbances

July 30, 1947
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Jewish as well as neutral quarters here ## interpreted the hanging at dawn today of the three young Irgunists as a move by the Palestine Government to provoke large-scale extremist outbreaks in the country, which all sources agree will follow shortly.

It is understood that the decision to execute the three Irgunists was made immediately after a conference in London between Palestine Chief Secretary Sir Henry L. Gurney and Colonial Secretary Arthur Creech-Jones, despite the fact that the Irgun still held two British soldiers as hostages.

The bodies of the three executed Jews were delivered at eight o’clock this morning to the Jewish cemetery in Safad. The entire Jewish population of Safad attended the burial ceremony at which the fathers of Abshalom Habib and Meir Nakar — two of those executed — recited Kaddish, while Rabbi Shlomo Podhorzer of Safad prayed for Jacob Weiss, the third Irgunist, who had no male relatives in Palestine. The bodies were laid to rest in graves adjoining those of Dov Gruner and his comrades who were hanged in April.


Shortly after the funeral, the Jewish National Council of Palestine issued an appeal to the Irgun Zvai Leumi not to hang the two Britons being held by its.

Although the relatives of the three youths attempted to go to Acre Prison last night when informed of the impending executions, the British authorities refused to admit them and shunted them off to Safad.

A number of hours before the executions police officials approached Rabbi Marcous of Haifa and asked him to administer the last rites. However, he refused because he felt he was too old to make the journey. The second rabbi invited, Sephardic Rabbi Abraham Ohanna, arrived at the jail at 1 A.M. and recited the traditional prayers for those who are about to die.

The doomed youths sent a message to their families, asking them not to mourn. “We are going to our death with quiet hearts,” they said. Rabbi Ohanna left the citadel at 2 A.M.


A few minutes before 4 A.M., the superintendent of Acre prison and high military and police officials, came to the death cells to accompany the Jews to the gallows. They marched out of their cells singing Hatikvah and were joined by all Jewish prisoners within earshot.

Weiss, the first to mount the platform, dropped through the trap at 4 A.M. Twenty-three minutes later Nakar was executed and Habib followed at 4:50 A.M. There was no Jew present to witness the hangings.

In the few hours between the announcement of the scheduled hangings and their being carried out, representatives of the Chief Rabbinate and various national institutions made last-minute pleas to halt the executions. The Jewish Agency issued a statement declaring that “in these last hours we renew our appeal to the High Commissioner that he need UNSCOP’s plea and that of all responsible Jewish authorities and he spare the Yishuv and the Jewish people this new tragedy.”

In addition, Goldie Meirson, political chief of the Jerusalem section of the ## telephoned Sir Alan Cunningham. However, Isaac Ben Zvi, president of the Jewish National Council, was told by the Acting Chief Secretary that Cunningham understood the feelings of the Jewish community, but the decision had been taken and was unchangeable.

Meanwhile, the military authorities were making desperate eleventh-hour attempts to locate the two kidnapped British sergeants before the time of the executions. Petach Tikvah was cordoned off last night at dusk and searched. No details of the operation were released.

(The American Zionist Emergency Council, speaking for all official Zionist organizations in the United States, charged today that the execution of three Jews by the British Government in Palestine was a “deliberate act of provocation,” particularly since the U.N. inquiry committee was meeting to find a solution.)


An hour after the hangings a hand grenade was thrown at a passing armored car in the center of Jerusalem. A short time afterwards police shot and wounded a Jewish youth. They asserted that he had failed to halt when challenged.

In Tel Litwinsky last night, two soldiers and a Jewish interpreter were injured seriously enough to require hospitalization when a bomb exploded near an open##air movie. Two members of the Arab Legion, who were on guard at the cinema, were injured slightly.

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