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Tension Eases in Palestine: Kidnapped Britons Released by Extremists Unharmed

January 29, 1947
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Jews throughout the country breathed more easily tonight following the release this afternoon of Judge Ralph Windnam and former Major H.I.Collins, who had been kidnapped by Jewish extremists. The feeling among Jewish leaders was that a catastrophe had been averted by the release of the two Britons.

Judge Windham telephoned police be was near a factory between Tel Aviv and Petach Tikvah. Major Collins was brought to his home in Jerusalem. He immediately reported the details of his kidnapping to high officers of the British Intelligence.

Shortly before the two Britens were freed, the Irgun explained over its underground radio station that they were being released “not because of the threats issued by the head of the British occupation forcess, but because the purpose for which they had been kidnapped has been achieved, namely, Gruner, who would have been executed this morning has not been executed and will not be executed, because if such a crime is committed against Gruner or any other of our soldiers, we will not yield to reaction from any side.”


Gruner, himself, today declined to lodge an appeal for clemency with the Privy Council. In his death call in Jerusalem, he told his lawyer: “I refuse to ask anything from the British, but if they want to, they have plenty of reason to commute the death sentence which their military court imposed.” The lawyer, Asher Levitsky, is seeing Gruner again tomorrow in a final attempt to secure his consent to an appeal. If Gruner agrees the Palestine Government will immediately drop preparations for his execution, since it is expected that a long interval will elapse before the Privy Council announcesits decision.

Representatives of the Jewish Agency, of the rabbinate and of the Tel Aviv numicipality were conferring today on-means of making Gruner sign the appeal. Levitsky said that if necessary, he will ask Irgun commander Menchem Begin to order Gruner to sign.


The unconditional release of the kidnapped British civilians had been demanded by the executive of the Jewish Agency, the Chief Rabbinate, the municipalthy of Tel Aviv and other important Jewish bodies. The curfew which military authorities imposed upon Tel Aviv was lifted for 24 hours in order to give Mayor Rokach an opportunity to take nation to find the kidnapped man.

A proclamation issued by Rokach to the population of Tel Aviv prior to the release of Windham and Gollins said “I will not raet until the two kidnapped men are released. Judge Windhen is a ? of Tel Aviv by ? of his office. If we lose our respect for the honor and freedom of those living among us, we sever our connection with our past and affect our future.” The mayor urged the population to help find the abducted Britons and “to remove the stain from the Yishuv.”

The proclamation was issued following a meeting of the municipal souncil called to set upon an ultimatum by the military commander of the Southern District that if the kidnapped men were not returned safely by six o’clock tomorrow evening the city would be placed under military control.


A similar warning was voiced this morning in Jerusalem by Sir Henry L. Gurney, Chief Scoretary of the Palestine Government. He announced that if the kidnapped men were not returned by six o’clock tomorrow evening the civil administration of certain areas would be replaced by a military regime. Martial law, he said, would mean military occupation of those areas, and cessation of telephone and mail facilities.

The Chief Rabbinate, in its proclamation urging the immediate release of Windham and Collins, emphasized that they were “innocent people.” The Rabbinate pointed out that the kidnapping was a “stain” upon the good name of the entire Jewish nation. “Beware of the historic responsibility resting upon you not to cause bloodshed,” they warned the kidnappers. “Disaster is threatening the Yishuv.”


The proclamation issued by the Jewish Agency which demanded the immediate and unconditional release of Windham and Collins, said that the Agency was speaking to the extremists “on behalf of the entire Jewish people.” It described the kidnapping as “a relapse into primeval barbarism” and termed the kidnappers “demented desperadoes who have out themselves off from the Yishuv and from the civilized community.”

Fifty British families living in Tel Aviv were evacuated today to Sarons, strongly defended police encampment on the outskirts of the city. Their sonvoy of vehicles was escorted by armored cars. Jerusalem was placed out of bounds to all British troops on leave.

Gen. Sir Miles Dempsey, Commander-in-Chief of the British land forces in the Middle East, arrived in Jerusalem today from Cairo and conferred with High Commissioner Sir Alan Cunningham.

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