Dec 1947-April 1948
Pages in Section 10
Bombing of the King David Hotel
i. Givat Hayim
ii. Ramat Gan
iii. Night of the Bridges
iv. Attack on Railway Workshops
v. OP Agatha
vi. Bombing of the king David Hotel
vii. Operation Shark
Irgun's choice of bombing the King David Hotel's south wing housing the civilian Secretariat, rather than the central block of the hotel housing the Military HQ , was q direct response to Operation Agatha.
During Operation Agatha, police had removed incriminating documents found in the Jewish Agency buildings to the Secretariat offices. Haganah wanted these destroyed. Initially Haganah had approved the attack on the King David Hotel as part of the Jewish United Resistance Movement but had specified that the attack should take place when most staff, especially the civilian secretaries and typists were not in the building. If the Irgun had exploded the bombs an hour later the civilian staff would have been on their lunch break but the Irgun would not have been able to set up bombs in the basement restaurant while it was full of diners.
The two main reasons the attack was so 'successful', as an act of terrorism, was firstly that Jewish informers had briefed the CID that Haganah had vetoed any United Jewish resistance operations for the duration of that week's London Conference and secondly that the police had already searched the King David for bombs earlier following a hoax telephone call.
As a result of the attack, 91 people were killed,(92 if one counts the terrorist who died) Most of the dead were hotel or Secretariat staff. The deaths included 41 Arabs, 28 British citizens, 17 Palestinian Jews, 2 Armenians, 1 Russian, 1 Greek and 1 Egyptian. Another 46 people were injured. Thirteen of those killed left no identifiable traces.
As a result of the death toll Haganah ended its membership of the United Resistance.
Throughout Palestine, Jews expressed their horror at the tragedy.
As per usual, the British threw away any political advantage the incident gave them. Sir Evelyn Barker, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) British Forces, committed the first and greatest gaffe. He had been in his office when the first bomb exploded. Three hours later, still in a state of shock, he sat down and penned the following anti-Semitic letter to the forces under his command:
"The Jewish community of Palestine cannot be absolved from responsibility for the long series of outrages culminating in the blowing up of a large part of the Government offices in the King David Hotel causing grievous loss of life. Without the support, active or passive, of the general Jewish public the terrorist gangs who actually carried out these criminal acts would soon be unearthed, and in this measure the Jews in this country are accomplices and bear a share of the guilt.
Thanks to the efficient Zionist infiltration of the military administration, the letter was copied to local and international newspapers.
Although the order was rescinded in two weeks, the damage had been done. From then on, the police not could rely on the Yishuv, who had been so shocked by the Bombing of the King David Hotel, to help bring the perpetrators of that outrage to Justice.
The next event to alienate the Yishuv still further was Operation Shark, which affected the least politically-minded Jews - the bourgeois population of Tel Aviv.
Next- Operation SharkPS The father of this web page's author was in his office in the Secretariat when the bombs exploded. Luckily for him the office was at the rear end of the wing so he received only minor injuries. Since he was a telephone engineer working with the government controlled Palestinian Post and Telegraph Service, he was able to call out experienced telephone linesmen and their vans to help with the rescue digging. (MP)
Text - Copyright British Palestine Police Association