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170 Sternists Weo Brofe out of Jaffa Jail Transferred to Acre; 30 Still at Large

October 11, 1948
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

About 170 Stern Group prisoners who staged a demonstration yesterday, overpowering the guards and taking over control of the prison, surrendered to the military police before dawn this morning. They were loaded into lorries and transferred to Acre prison where the authorities grimly promised that treatment “won’t be so lax.”

About 30 detainees who walked out of the prison yesterday were still at large today and were the objects of an intensive man-hunt. The authorities predicted a speedy return or recapture of all fugitives.

Meanwhile, the military authorities opened a searching inquiry into the administration of the Jaffa prison to determine responsibility for the conditions enabling the Sternists to stage their demonstration, which the Hebrew press denounced today as a serious blow to the Israeli Government’s prestige.

A senior military police official denied today that the Sternists had been in virtual control within the prison for the last fortnight, explaining that they were confined to cells but were permitted free use of the large exercise yard. Asked why the prison guards had not used arms to prevent the break, he replied that the prisoners, after making their escape by leaping over the wall, had mixed with the crowd of women and children outside the prison who had come to visit the Sternists, and it would have been impossible to take action without endangering the lives of these bystanders.


The Hebrew press today described the “scandal at Jaffa” as a deliberate Sternist attempt to expose the government to ridicule and demanded a searching investigation into responsibility for conditions permitting it. Enaretz, while urging an investigation, called on the government to act immediately to bring the Sternists to trial and not to prolong their detention without giving them a day in court.

The Sternists were given the full run of the prison for 19 hours while the authorities made preparations for the restoration of order. It was not until 5 o’clock this morning that the authorities acted with an ultimatum to the Sternists, which the prisoners accepted.

An official account of the events at Jaffa prison said that after mustering forces during the night, the Army presented an ultimatum to the Sternists to come out in groups of five, submit to search, and board the buses which were parked outside the prison walls in the pitch dark pre-dawn.

Two Stern Group representatives asked for a meeting with the military commander of the operation, who said: “No bargaining, the ultimatum is final, if you ### not come out by 6:15, every force available will be used and every soldier ordered to open fire if any detainee tries to escape. “With a few minutes left before the expiration, the representatives announced acceptance of the terms.

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