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Police covered up deaths in Mandatory Palestine, new documents show

CM 31/07/2021 5

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British police in Mandate Palestine worked to cover up the killing of Jewish resistance activists, Israeli researchers have said, after 5,000 newly declassified documents were released by the Israeli State Archives in April 2021.

Among the declassified files are British police reports from Mandatory Palestine, detailing the British version of events during the shooting and murder of the “Lehi Children,” on November 12 1947.
British forces learned that members of the Lehi (Stern Group) resistance group were training in a house in Ra’anana and arrived at the scene to prevent them from continuing.
The records detail the police arrival on the scene at about 10:05 a.m., and reports that “4 girls and 4-9 youth were in the house and armed with [live ammunition].”
The report then says that the commanding officer “saw his forces in immediate danger,” and ordered them to open fire on the Stern Group members, who tried to escape in multiple directions.

Three girls, Yehudit Cohen, Sarah Belski and Leah Gintzler, all aged 15-18, were killed in the confrontation, as was 16-year-old Shalom Makharovsky, and their shooting instructed Yitzhak Moskowitz, aged 19.
Despite the British claim that their forces were in danger, they were blamed for killing the children “in cold blood,” by eyewitnesses at the time, according to Ynet.
Peleg Levi, who created the documentary “The Children of Ra’anana” has examined the records and has said that “There is no doubt the children that ran away from the building were not a threat, as shown by the fact that no British soldier was wounded in the incident.”
“We know that these five children were gunned down while running away. This testimony is crucial and aids further research by showing the event in real-time from the British point of view.” 
An additional incident, the murder of Meiur Plaskowski and his son Reuven on September 17 1947 at the hands of a British soldier, was revealed to have been intentionally covered up by British police. 
Police records from that day report that “an accident had occurred on the…road and two persons seriously injured and the W.D. vehicle involved failed to stop.”
The soldier had stated that he lost control of his vehicle and hit a tree on the side of the road, and did not realize that he had run anyone over. 
The new documents, however, show that a Jewish man named Shneur Zalman Gonik had given an eye-witness statement saying that he had seen the tank turn and deliberately hit the motorcycle, killing the father and his son.
“The motorcycle was 15 meters ahead of me,” Gonik said, as quoted in the UK’s Jewish Chronicle newspaper. “In front of both of us was a military armored car. Suddenly, I saw it swerve and hit the motorcycle. A cloud of dust rose up and after it dissipated, I saw the driver of the armored car probably losing control and zigzagging along the road.”
About five meters ahead of me, he gained control of the vehicles, moved to the other side of the road, hit a fence, then a tree and stopped. I did not see any other car behind or in front of us. There was nobody on the road except the armored vehicle, the motorcycle and my car.”
According to Dr Saul Zadka, the author of Blood in Zion, a history of the Jewish armed struggle in Palestine, the attack was a “randomly targeted ‘retaliation’ after the Irgun had hanged two British sergeants outside Netanya,” the Jewish Chronicle reported.
“These are only just a few examples of the British conduct in Palestine, mostly in the last four years of the Mandate. The killing sprees were not only acts of individuals,” added Dr Zadka. “Hitting civilians become more common as the British were losing the war against the Hebrew underground groups fighting for independence.”

Source: Jerusalem Post

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