Majesty’s Martyrs

THE POLITICAL AGENDA OF THE IRGUN ZVAI LEUMI

As told by MENDEL MALATZKY
High Command, Haifa

The Irgun gave a call to war to defeat the British Administration and their rules against the Jewish people of Eretz Israel. We wanted to "force" them to leave the country through political means by attacking symbols of British oppression.

The first major action by the Irgun was the bombing of the Immigration Offices in Haifa, Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv; symbol of the 1939 White Paper barring of Jewish immigration in to the Homeland when our people were being massacred in war torn Europe.

The second major action by the Irgun was the bombing of the Taxation Offices of Haifa, Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv; symbol of British economic oppression in Eretz Israel.

The Jewish Agency and their following in the Yishuv thought the British Mandate of 1922 should continue and they hoped the British Parliament Labour Party would support the Jewish state. Under the authority of the Jewish Agency was the Haganah defense organization.

After World War II the British continued to prevent immigration of survivors of the Holocaust into Eretz Israel.

For nine months in this period there was an alliance between the Irgun, the LECHI, and the Haganah to fight the British policies.

In July 1946 the British military invaded the Jewish Agency Office and took documents with names of leaders and members who were then arrested and many deported to Africa. The British Army took the documents to the Central Intelligence Division (CID). The documents were then taken to the British Army and Administration Headquarters at the King David Hotel.

Later, in July of 1946, the bombing of the King David Hotel was executed as a political military action against the symbol of British Military oppression in the Homeland.

In every action of the Irgun we did not intend to hurt people, just the symbols of British oppression.

In February of 1946 we attacked three air fields, destroying 30-40 British aircraft. Some of these aircraft were used to scout the seas for immigrant ships smuggling Jewish Holocaust survivors into Palestine. This was a major blow to the British as it demonstrated there was no "safe" place for them in Eretz Israel.

It was here that the British recognized the IZL to be a real resistance force, marking the beginning of British evacuation from Eretz Israel.

In March of 1946 in a combined LECHI/IZL action we attacked the largest weapons and ammunition depot of the British Military in Eretz Israel at Sarafand. This action brought our organization much needed supplies.
Two of our soldiers were captured in this attack, and then sentenced to execution by hanging by a British Military Court.

"When Ashbel and Simchon were sentenced we warned the British Government for the first time: Do not hang the captive soldiers. If you do we shall answer gallows with gallows." (The Revolt)

The Irgun captured five British officers as hostages against this warning.

British documents were sent to England about the hangings threat and the two sentences were commuted. The five British Officers were released.

In December of 1946 the British made a fatal mistake in their attitude towards the Jewish underground in Eretz Israel. This was the "Flogging Incident."

The Irgun had low financial reserves and so we would "take" weapons from British military camps to supply what we could not buy.

This involved "financial activities" by the "confiscation" of funds from Banks insured by British Insurance Companies so that the person losing the money was British. Sometimes it meant "confiscation" of our monies.

On one such robbery one of our 17 year old soldiers was captured and sentenced by British military court to 18 lashes and 18 years in prison.

The Irgun soldier replied, "Well, the 18 lashes I will receive … but the 18 years you will not be here."

This showed the strong belief and faith of the Hebrew youth that the fight will succeed. That God promised this land to the Jewish people … "Ubi patria. Ibi bene."

The humility in the act of flogging showed the British attitude that we could be treated as if we were natives of wild Africa, uneducated and uncultured. This act discredited the pride of the Hebrew people.

A pamphlet was issued the next day after the sentence was given warning the British not to flog the soldier.

"If the British Army whipped our boys, we would whip British officers in return. Every British officer in Eretz Israel would run the risk of similar punishment."
(The Revolt)

EIGHTEEN LASHES (Tavin/Alexander)
(A sentence of 18 strokes was carried out against a young soldier of the Irgun)

Eighteen lashes on the bare back of the youthful recalcitrant! Eighteen lashes to bring home to his inexperienced mind the austereness of British Justice, the force of its imperial might! A dozen lashes and yet another half dozen too to bruise his back, to crush rebellion form his heart: the crack of the whip, the victim’s stifled moan to agonise his parents, to humble his race, to kill pride and spirit, to destroy the natural urge to shake the tyrant from his saddle.
One score of strokes minus two plied by puritans; the Empire’s haughty counterblast against the right to want freedom, the right to speak for freedom, the right to fight for freedom, the right to strike at tyranny’s shakles masquerading as a mandatory earnestly seeking a way out of a dilemma!
Let the sound of these lashes echo; let it reverberate: Hark, you who have survived the foul purposes of Hitler who in the light of contemporary events is slowly taking on the shape of a gentleman!

Listen to the fury of the British lash, you who are pining behind British barbed wire; you who are wondering in indignation behind British prison bars; you who weep for your sons and daughters, wives or husbands, your friends and dear ones; you who are in anguish, who chafe, who protest in every fibre of your being against the colonial concepts of human dignity, human law and human security. Listen and be tutored, you incorrigible ones! See the scouring flaying mission of the lash as it falls upon the stubborn back of unyielding youth! It has come to teach you the inviolable rights of Britons to maintain their Empire, to preserve their imperial routes to bask in the shimmering translucence of the most modern of Gods – Oil! The rights of a bureaucracy never in the wrong to make arbitrary decisions, arbitrary "laws," arbitrary and indiscriminate arrests; the rights of Britons to trample upon the sanctity of written promise, to trample upon the sanctity of the spoken promise, to violate the word spoken yesterday if it does not suit the purpose of today, the purpose of the drab, dreary fleeting hour! The sacred, the hallowed, the uncompromising right of Mistress England to shoot into the rooms – deliberately shoot – of a non-combattant population where women and children crouch against the walls or scramble under the furniture; the right, the noble right of self righteous England to hold women and children and all and sundry hostages against the rifle point.
Yes, let us drink fully the inspiring message of the eighteen strokes! England is now vindicated. Why should she be checked in her altruistic motives when all she asks is the mere sacrifice of a nation’s right to freedom, air, the right to its track of territory under the sun and the right to fight for one’s pride and one’s place amongst the children of God!

The British disregarded this warning. On Friday, 28 December 1946 one of the Irgun soldiers was flogged.

The next day, upon hearing this news, British Majors were flogged in Netanya, Tel Aviv, and Richon Etzion.

The Irgun proved its word. There was never another flogging.

Two days later, on 01 January 1947, General Barker sentenced our severely wounded soldier, Dov Gruner, to execution by hanging.
On 21 January 1947 the military court issued the sentencing.
On 23 January 1947 General Barker confirmed the sentencing, setting the execution date for 28 January 1947.

In Britain’s Parliament debates had begun as to the question of their military presence in Palestine. Churchill stated before Parliament that Britain "should leave Palestine" … "take out the soldiers in Palestine" … and other comments.

The Irgun would not tolerate hanging of its soldiers.

on 26 January 1947 British Intelligence Officer Collins was kidnaped as a hostage; hangings for hangings.

There was no British response.

On 27 January 1947 Judge Windham was arrested during his courtroom case in Tel Aviv as a second hostage.

Within hours General Barker broke his silence. This demonstrated to us how the British aristocracy is more important to them than their common citizens.

The execution was indefinitely postponed with less than 12 hours to spare.

Here we proved that British authority could not do everything they want to do in Eretz Israel.

In February 1947 the British administration declared if the Jewish Agency and Yishuv did not help stop the underground there would be "martial law."

This showed that the British could not handle the situation and bring order in Palestine through threats, curfews, and other forms of persecution.

The Irgun declared it was not frightened.

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One Comment

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