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Extremists Kidnap British Judge in Palestine; Force Postponement of Gruner’s Execution

January 28, 1947
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The execution of Dov Gruner, member of the Irgun Zvai Leumi who was sentenced to death by a military court for participating in an attack on a Palestine police station, was today postponed for an indefinite period following the kidnapping by Jewish extremists of Judge Ralph Windham, who was snatched from the Tel Aviv District courtroom.

The hanging of Gruner was originally scheduled to have taken place tomorrow. The postponement was granted by Lt. Gen. Sir Evelyn Barker, British commander-in-chief, in order to enable Gruner to appeal to the Privy Council, highest court in the British Commonwealth.

Meanwhile, High Commissioner Sir Alan Cunningham summoned Jewish leaders and told them that he may impose martial law on certain sections of the country, if the kidnapped judge, as well as former Major H.J. Collins, who was kidnapped by extremists yesterday in Jerusalem, were not freed by an undisclosed deadline, reported to be 48 hours.

A curfew of indefinite duration has been imposed on the Jewish quarters of Jerusalem and Haifa and a dusk-to-dawn curfew is in effect in all of Tel Aviv and on virtually all roads. Hundreds of heavily armed, helmeted troops were combing the three cities in a hunt for the four youths and a girl who seized Collins at his home yesterday, and the ten men who invaded Windham’s court this morning and escorted him into a waiting car at gun-point.

Windham’s kidnappers brandished tomanyguns and revolvers at all those in the court, forcing them to line up against the walls. The judge was still wearing his black judicial robes and his white wig when he was led from the courtrom. Sirens were sounded almost immediately and the courthouse was cordoned off by police.


Tension prevailed throughout the country today as a result of the kidnappings. The Palestine radio at periodic intervals instructed all British civilians to stay at home, warning them that “you are in danger of kidnapping.”

A Jewish Agency spokesman told a press conference that the Agency would issue a vigorous denunciation of the kidnappings, because “they were an uncivilized procedure” and added that other leading Jewish bodies would issue similar statements.

The threat to impose martial law was made to Mrs. Goldie Meirson, head of the political department of the Jerusalem section of the Agency, Eliezer Kaplan, Agency treasurer, and Mayor Israel Rokach of Tel Aviv, who were called to Government House to meet with the High Commissioner.

Chief Rabbi Isaac Herzog, who has been on vacation, returned to Jerusalem today to join in the activity on behalf of Gruner. Both the High Commissioner and Chief Secretary Sir Henry Gurney yesterday refused to see a delegation of the Agudas Israel and advised them to submit their statements in writing. It is learned that the appeal sent yesterday by Isaac Ben-Zvi, Jewish National Council president, followed an unsuccessful effort to see the High Commissioner.

The “Voice of Zion,” secret radio of the Irgun, went on the air today with a warning to the authorities that if Gruner is executed, “there will be no atonement for such a crime but the shedding of the perpetrators’ blood. You will have to pay a high price for our captive brother’s life,” the broadcast continued.

The search for Windham centered around Ramat Gan this evening, where the car in which he was abducted was found abandoned, and which was the scene of the raid for which Gruner was condemned.

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