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41 Jews Lynched at Haifa Oil Refinery After Irgun Bombs Kill Six Arabs

December 31, 1947
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Forty-one Jews were stabbed, kicked and beaten to death today in Haifa by an angry Arab mob numbering hundreds after two bombs flung from a speeding auto into a crowd of Arabs killed six of them and wounded over 40. The bombing is believed to be the work of the Irgun which yesterday killed 13 Arabs at the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem in a similar action.

The bombs, which set off the worst massacre in the month-old “war,” were thrown into a line of about 100 Arab laborers filing through the gates of the Consolidated Refineries to go to work. Within a short time other Arab workers, estimated by some to be as many as 1,800, sought out every Jew they could find on the oil company property and lynched him. The mob used tractors to break down the doors of the company’s main offices and dragged out several Jewish clerks barricaded there.

At least seven Jews were wounded in the same action. Private sources estimate that the official casualty figures are far too low. About 400 Jews were employed at the refinery.

The milling mob was eventually brought under control by a hastily summoned company of British troops who charged the mob repeatedly before dispersing it. The plant was temporarily closed and unharmed Jewish workers were escorted to their homes by police and troops.

Responsible Jewish quarters were quick to condemn the attack on the Arabs. One source pointed out that relations among the workers in the plant had always been of the best, even during the 1936-1939 riots. “It was a silly, murderous political crime, causing damage to our struggle besides costing so many Jewish lives,” the same source said.


Three British policemen were killed in Jerusalem today, it was officially announced. Two, in plainclothes, were killed by hand grenades hurled by unidentified persons near the large Machne Yehuda marketplace. The third constable was killed by Arab snipers while guarding mourners at the funeral of Dr. Hugo Lebr, who was murdered by Arab gunmen Sunday. A fourth policeman was wounded by the snipers.

Arab snipers also attacked the funeral cortege of four other Jews killed within the last two days. At one point Arab Legionnaires encamped on Mt. Scopus fired on the funeral parties. Escorting police returned the fire and are believed to have inflicted some casualties on the Transjordan soldiers. A Jewish gravedigger, preparing Dr. Lehr’s grave, was killed in the exchange of shots and two other Jews, one the father of one of the dead men, were wounded.

Sporadic outbursts of rifle fire were heard tonight from all of Jerusalem’s suburbs and a bomb exploded in the Katamon quarter. An unidentified Jew who was caught by an Arab mob on a side street leading from the center of the city was dragged several blocks under the eyes of British constables and shot dead.

Sixteen Jews were wounded, four seriously, this morning, when Arab snipers raked a Jewish bus outside Jerusalem with automatic fire. The bus was proceeding up Mt. Scopus to the Hadassah Hospital and the Hebrew University, and was said to be full of nurses, doctors, medical workers and college instructors on their way to work. The snipers were entrenched in houses in the Shelk Jarach quartor near a police pillbox. Four doctors narrowly escaped injury there yesterday when they abandoned their car under Arab and British police gunfire and raced to shelter.

Despite a government ban, Jews began using armored cars on the run from the center of Jerusalem to the hospital or the university shortly after this attack, the latest in a long series.

Three separate battles raged in the outskirts of the city last night as Haganah units lashed out at Arab bands preparing to attack Jewish homes. The Jewish attack, which threw the raiders off balance and eventually scattered them, resulted in the death of several Arabs and the wounding of others. All Jewish militiamen returned safely to base. Guerrilla fighting and patrol actions also took place on the Tel Aviv-Jaffa front.


Arab train robberies have increased in number and audacity to an almost unbelievable point during the present period. Two robberies occurred during the daylight hours today. One took place near Gaza where a strong band of hold-up men calmly halted a freight train and leisurely emptied it of all its cargo. In the second near Jerusalem, four cars full of flour and the contents of a mail train were stolen.

Moshe Shertok, Jewish Agency politicial chief, arrived at the Lydda airport today from the United States. He immediately set out for Tel Aviv where he will have a private conversation with Agency Chairman David Ben Gurion.

Meyer Levin, former Jewish Telegraphic Agency correspondent, and two other newspapermen who arrived in Palestine aboard a blockade runner last week were released from arrest after posting $4,000 bail each. A fourth member of the group, a Frenchwoman, was released earlier.

The production of two-seater airplanes for the Hamaof Company here was begun today. The designer of the plane formerly built planes for the Caproni Company of Italy. Meanwhile, work has begun near Tel Aviv on an airfield which will cost $120,000 to complete.

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