Jewish resistance against the British in Palestine – by the Tour guide in Jerusalem – Leontine Cohen

Context : Covid Travel Ban in Israel

With Covid still making it impossible to travel to Israel, I do make plans of all the sites I would like to show you when the country will open again.
Here is an interesting story of the short but intense situation in Palestine between 1945 and 1947.

My name is Leontine Cohen. I am a state-licensed Tour guide in Jerusalem Old City.

Situation in Israel after the World War 1

Since Great Britain obtained the mandate at the end of World War 1 over what was then called Palestine, the Jewish community there was represented by the Jewish Agency.
The Jewish Agency als functioned as a pre-government body, with their members being specialized in education, finance etc for the Jewish community in Palestine, just as ministers would be in an independent country.
The Jewish Agency had political fights with Great Britain as Jewish immigration to British Palestine was very complicated and extremely limited.
The political name for the strict immigration rules was “ White paper “
During World War 2 the Jewish Agency decided to fight side by side with the British against the Nazis and a large majority of Jews in Palestine volunteered to fight in the British army.

Situation in Israel after the World War 2

When after World War II the world discovered the reality of the death camps, the Jews in Palestine were convinced the immigration of what was supposed to be the future homeland of the Jews was going to be easy and unlimited.
But the contrary turned out to be the reality.

Great Britain continued its strict regulations in the matter of immigration and maneuvered carefully in order to not hurt the Arab lobby. This was because of the interest of the British in other parts of the Arab world and as well of their dependance of oil.


Haganah, Etzel and Lehi Organizations

As an answer to the British policy, the Jewish Agency united 3 organizations: the Haganah, Etzel and Lehi. The members of these 3 organizations came from different political horizons. They agreed to always decide and fight together.
They set up an attack plan in order to change the mind of the British concerning Jewish immigration to Palestine.


Attacks on British Prisons

In October 1945, they attacked a prison where the British detained Jews that had entered the country illegally. They freed 208 prisoners.
One month later they sabotaged the railroad system and in June 1946 in what became know as the night of the bridges, the 11 bridges that connected Palestine with its neighboring countries were blown up.
In a reaction to this, the British arrested many Jewish political leaders and they searched for the hiding places of arms and secret documents.

The Haganah, Etzel and Lehi members did not agree in how to react and the Etzel movement broke away.
Etzel then planned an attack on the famous King David hotel in Jerusalem where the offices of the British military headquarters were located.
The attack led to the death of 80 people, Brits, Jews, Muslims, soldiers and civilians. Etzel had warned the British that a bomb was about to explode but the British ignored the warning.

After this disaster the Jewish Agency and the Haganah condemned this action and the resistance ceased.
However, in November 1947, a resolution was adopted that granted Jews with a homeland and whej Israel in 1948 became indépendant, mass immigration followed.


Private tour in Jerusalem with Leontine Cohen :

On our tour in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, I will show you different sites of resistance, hiding places of arms, as well as prison sites where Jews were held when caught resisting.
If we travel into the country there à numerous sites to see, such a some blown up bridges, hiding places, the Atlit detaining camp and many more interesting sites .

Looking forward to guiding you soon !

Leontine Cohen