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Ben Gurion Calls Bombing of Soviet Legation “outrage”; 30 Arrested

February 11, 1953
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Some 30 people were arrested by the Israeli police today in the aftermath of last night’s bombing of the Soviet Legation here. Five persons, including four Russians and a child in the neighborhood, were injured by the blast.

Addressing the Parliament, Premier David Ben Gurion declared that it was “with very deep regret” that he reported the bombing of the Soviet Legation. The Premier, who interrupted his vacation to hurry back to Jerusalem and meet with the Cabinet on the incident, called it an “abominable outrage.”

He announced that the Israel Foreign Ministry early this morning sent a note offering to pay compensation to the Soviet Government for damages to the legation and for injuries suffered by its employees. The note also expressed the government’s sympathy and called the attack a blow at the State of Israel and not merely at the Legation.

Mr. Ben Gurion pointed out that the Israel security authorities had offered to place additional police guards in the legation courtyard, but that the Soviet Minister had refused, preferring to assign Legation personnel to the task. He said the Foreign Ministry this morning asked the Minister’s permission to study the scene of the explosion, in the legation courtyard, in the hope of finding footprints or parts of the bomb.

The Premier, in the name of the government, extended to the injured “sincere good wishes” for their speedy recovery. “I know that the Knesset and people of Israel will join us in these sentiments,” he added.


Among the suspects rounded up by the police were Haviv Shiber and Michael Wolfish, president and a member, respectively, of the Anti-Communist League of Israel. The police closed the headquarters of the league today and held anyone who attempted to enter the premises. They also questioned a number of people living in the same neighborhood as Mr. Shiber.

It was reported that an official of the league had told the police that the organization was openly anti-Communist and had never advocated nor practiced terrorism. The league came under investigation earlier yesterday when the legations of several of the Communist nations received letters–purporting to come from the league–threatening violence.

Last night, several hours after the blast at 10 P.M., the Foreign Ministry issued the following statement: “The government views with horror and detestation the dastardly outrage committed this evening on the Soviet legation in Tel Aviv. This act of criminal folly stands condemned in the eyes of all decent citizens who will recognize it as directed not merely against a foreign diplomatic mission, but at the heart of the state itself.

“Every effort will be made to find the perpetrators of this foul deed and when found, they will be brought to swift justice. The government expresses its sense of affliction and deep regret to the Soviet Minister and members of the legation staff, particularly to the injured who are now being attended in the hospital.”


Among the injured at the legation was Mme, Claudia Yershov, wife of the Soviet Minister, Pavel Yershov. She was released from the Hadassah Hospital last night after being treated for minor wounds on a hand and a leg. The legation’s cook, who was in critical condition last night, was reported today to be somewhat improved. Mme. Yershov’s chauffeur and another male employee of the legation also suffered minor injuries and were released after receiving treatment.

The blast, which apparently occurred outside the legation, was heard throughout the city. Police cars and ambulances from Hadassah Hospital arrived on the scene in a matter of minutes. The police immediately cordoned off the area, in which two policemen are normally on guard duty. The raiders apparently cut a hole in the heavy wire fence surrounding the legation and placed their bomb outside the kitchen. It and an adjoining room, in which most of the injured were sitting at tea, were badly damaged. Homes in the area were also scarred by the blast.

The Israeli press today was unanimous in its condemnation of the bombing. All newspapers agreed that the entire community was horrified by the bombing and would fight terrorism with every means at its disposal. They also agreed with the government that the blast was a blow to the state, as well as to the Soviet legation. One newspaper speculated that the bomb might have been placed by Arab infiltrees hoping to embitter Soviet-Israeli relations.

Delegations from a number of Israeli organizations today visited the Soviet legation to express their sympathy with the Russians. Among these were groups from the Israel-Soviet Friendship League and the Committee for Peace. A group of Russian monks travelled from their monastery in Jaffa to the legation to express their sympathy.

It was learned today that Shiber, the chairman of the Anti-Communist League, had several times attempted to form a political party. The list of candidates he submitted in the last national election received only 300 votes. It was called the “Veterans Slate.”

Dr. Moshe Sneh, pro-Communist leader of the new party which broke away from the Mapam, today said he was the recipient of a threatening note–also signed in the same of the Anti-Communist League–warning him of sudden death unless he resigned his position as secretary of the Israel-Soviet Friendship League.

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