Dec 1947-April 1948
Pages in Section 11
The Bombing of Haifa Police Station
i. Dov Gruner's Trial|
ii. Haifa Police Station Bombed
iii. Bombing of the Jewish Press Office
iv. The Beginning of the End
v. Op Polly
vi. Executions and a Funeral
vii. Irgun Frees Acre Prisoners
After the death sentence had been imposed on Dov Gruener, the Stern Gang attacked the Northern District Police Compound behind the Khayat Building on Kingsway in Haifa.
Preparation for the outrage began in Tel Aviv on Saturday 11th January 1947 when a group of men dressed in British Palestine Police uniforms kidnapped the civilian driver of a 2.5 ton RAF truck. The following afternoon, shortly after five, a man dressed as a policeman drove the truck into the police compound in Haifa. Amongst other things the compound included the HQ of the Northern Palestine police District, a billet for 200 men in the five storey Khayet building, the police club, and the cable and wireless building. The driver parked the car outside the police canteen. A supernumerary police constable on guard noticed a burning fuse protruding from it and challenged the driver who jumped from the vehicle and fled. The guard fired five shots at him. When the man reached the gate leading from the compound to Kingsway, another guard fired, but his gun jammed and the terrorist escaped into the street, where he disappeared in the crowd near the "Egged" bus station.
Some three minutes later, with the evacuation of the compound underway, the bomb exploded with such terrific force that the blast was felt as far away as Hadar Hacarmel. Immediately, flames sprang up in the Police Club and an adjoining building, and all fire brigades in the city area rushed to fight the blaze.
The eastern section of the building which had contained billets and the Officers Mess was completely wrecked. The inner walls of the District Police H.Q. collapsed. Almost every window in the compound shattered.
From another section facing Jaffa Road, a block of concrete weighing at least two tons fell. Everyone still on site when the bomb exploded was deafened so orders couldn't be carried out. Visual signals couldn't be seen through dust and smoke.
Two British constables, Gordon Morgan and John Edward Ballentyne, and two Arab Temporary Additional Constables died; in addition, two British constables received life-threatening wounds, seven more were seriously wounded, and three suffered shock. Fifty Palestinian T.A.C's were injured.
Not just police were affected; many Jewish and Arab Civilians were also injured, most by flying glass, while many more suffered shock. All Haifa's available ambulances were called out to help. Around 50 people were taken to the Government Hospital, while eight were treated at the Rothschild Hospital. The Red Shield Society treated eighteen persons for cuts.
The streets of the city for almost a mile around were strewn inches deep with shattered glass. Furniture in flats and offices in neighbouring blocks was smashed. Many telephone lines were cut, the cable service was interrupted,electricity failed.
As night fell, rescue workers laboured by the light of two searchlights brought from Mount Carmel.
The loss in the area's civilian buildings in the area was estimated at several thousand pounds. In one block on Jaffa Road, 24 shops had their plate-glass shattered, and on the north side of Kingsway, out of 30 shops there, only two had their windows intact.
Provisional police headquarters were set up for the day at Cafe Edmond, on Kingsway and Khayat Street. The C.I.D. billets were moved to police premises on Mt Carmel.
Members of the Stern Gang informed newspaper offices in Tel Aviv that they were responsible for the bomb and that all their members involved in the attack had escaped unscathed.
A strange thing about this act of terrorism is that, in the UK, apart from 'The Times", very few newspapers reported it, although this may well have been the world's first car bomb. It certainly preceded the Ben Yehuda Street bombing of 1947 which some people claim as the first car bomb.
Text - Copyright British Palestine Police Association