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Jewish Agency Headquarters Wrecked by Explosion; 10 Reported Killed, 90 Wounded

March 12, 1948
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The American Consulate here today launched an investigation into an explosion which partially wrecked the Jewish Agency building and killed ten persons and wounded 90 others. Witnesses established that the explosives which blasted the heavily guarded building were brought into the Agency courtyard by a car flying the American flag and probably driven by the regular Arab chauffeur employed by the consulate.

The chauffeur, Anton Daoud, has disappeared. He reported to the consulate this morning and picked up the car, despite the fact that this was his day off. Although many persons saw him before the blast, no one at the consulate has seen him since. Consular officials also revealed that one of the staff cars was stolen yesterday and another last week.

The major damage was inflicted on two stories of one wing of the building. The offices of the Palestine Foundation Fund were completely demolished and Leib Jaffe, 72, its director, was killed. Jaffe was well-known in the United States where he worked for the Foundation Fund during the war years. Isaac Ben Zvi, president of the Jewish National Council, who was in the Council’s office in another wing of the building, was unscathed.

No member of the Agency executive was among the casualties. All of them haw been in Tel-Aviv for a number of days meeting on plans for the formation of a Provisional Jewish Government.

Immediately after the explosion Haganah squads were rushed to all strategic areas of the Jewish sections of Jerusalem and took control. All passersby, including drivers and passengers of vehicles, were halted and their identities were checked. Among the thousands temporarily detained were a number of newspapermen who came under suspicion because according to one rumor the car which transported the dynamite carried a “press” ticket.


Within several hours, workers in the undamaged sections of the structure were back on the job and repairmen had reconnected telephone lines and were hard at work returning other installations to service. Thousands of valuable documents pertaining to the history of the Zionist movement were safe in an underground vault.

Eye-witness accounts told of a number of persons being buried under falling masonry as parts of the building collapsed in the midst of a terrific flash of flame. Almost immediately, the structure, one of the most closely guarded in the city, was on fire. But firefighters managed to subdue the flames within a short time. One witness said that the scene was similar to that of the Ben Yehuda Street blast on February 22.An official version said that two explosions badly damaged the interior of the building. The ear was checked through the guard post in front of the Agency headquarters without inspection because the driver and an Arab passenger were wearing arm bands identifying them as “Consular Corps” employees. They placed two boxed of explosives in the hall of the building and fled. The car in which the explosives were carried was completely destroyed.

Following is a partial list of casualties in the explosion compiled by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency:

KILLED: Leib Jaffe, Bernard Spitzer, Tamar Neuman-Geller, Alice Lasker, Michael Raami, Joseph Nazari, Haim Polto. Three others are still unidentified.


Haganah units were kept on the alert tonight following the receipt of reliable reports indicating that the Arabs were massing for attacks on the Talbiya farter of Jerusalem and areas facing the Jewish Rehavia section of the city. Several Jewish houses in the Talbiya quarter were ordered evacuated for 24 hours today by the local British commander who set up gun posts in the buildings to guard against possible attacks.

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