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Arab Killed, 12 Wounded in Blast; Jewess Gets Life Term for Bomb Attempt

June 13, 1939
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

One Arab was killed and 12 others were wounded today when a Public Works Department truck on which they were riding set off a land mine near Tiberias. According to an official announcement, police dogs followed the trail of the mine-layers to the Jewish quarter of Tiberias, where the scent was lost. Subsequently, Arab crowds stoned Jews in Tiberias and snipers shot at a Jewish bus, wounding a girl named Bathia Segal. The authorities imposed curfew.

A military court today sentenced Miss Rachel Habshush, 17-year-old Yemenite Jewish girl, to life imprisonment for attempting to plant a bomb outside Jerusalem Central Prison on Friday. The girl, who goes by the Hebrew name “Ohevet Ami” (Lover of My People), is the first Jewess to be convicted under the two-year-old emergency regulations.

The verdict was reached after five minutes’ deliberation by the three military judges, who had heard testimony indicating that the girl had given a fruit-laden basket containing a powerful home-made time bomb to an Arab boy to hold. The sentence is subject to confirmation by Major General Robert H. Haining, General Officer in Command of British forces in Palestine.

During the trial, Zvi Drezner, Jerusalem correspondent of Hamashkif, organ of the extremist Zionist-Revisionists, and 14 other Revisionists were arrested.

The possibility of a death sentence for Miss Habshush was eliminated by the fact that she was shown to be under 18 years of age, after conflicting testimony by two Government experts, both Jews.

Defense counsel Gotein argued the possibility that a criminal had switched baskets on the girl, but offered no witnesses. Miss Habshush herself did not testify. The slight, dark-skinned girl remained stoically silent during most of the trial, but later gave way to weeping.

The principal prosecution witness was an eight-year-old Arab boy who testified that the defendant, dressed as a Moslem, had offered him a piastre to hold a basket, whereupon he called the police. Several British police testified that she had held a basket containing the bomb concealed uner fruit.

The Jerusalem Jewish Community protested to the District Commissioner against imposition of curfew in the Mea Shearim quarter for the fatal shooting of an Arab there last Wednes day. A delegation pointed out that thousands of innocent Jews were being punished for a crime which had not been proved committed by a Jew.

Meanwhile, agitation for formation of an all-inclusive Jewish Emergency Committee to fight Britain’s Palestine policy continued. Professors David Yellin and Joseph Klausner issued a manifesto demanding formation of such a committee and denouncing Jewish institutions as anesthetizing the Jewish public with “constructive” issues. The Tel Aviv Municipal Council decided to hold a series of closed meetings to work out a policy regarding the committee proposal.

Demands for formation of an emergency committee were rejected by David Ben Gurion, chairman of the Jewish Agency Executive, addressing a conference of heads of Palestine youth organizations. He said no representative Jewish institution would be established in addition to the Zionist Congress. He added that “we are prepared to include the Revisionist Party, with equal rights and duties.”

Replying to demands for replacement of Jerusalem’s Arab mayor by a Jew, District Commissioner Edward Keith-Roach informed Jewish members of the Municipal Council that there would be no change at present in the mayoralty, but Jewish claims would be fully considered in connection with the elections expected to be held in the Fall.

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