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The Acre Prison.

The Acre Prison break (Hebrew: הפריצה לכלא עכו‎) was a militant operation by the Irgun on 4 May 1947 in the British Mandate of Palestine, in which its men broke through the walls of Acre prison and freed several incarcerated Irgun activists.

Contents

Background

In the time of the British Mandate the citadel in the old city of Acre was used as a prison. In total, the prison contained 700 Arab prisoners and 90 Jewish prisoners, the latter were mainly members of the Jewish underground groups: Hagana, Lehi, and Irgun, who were captured by the Brittish forces. One of those prisoners was Eitan Livni (father of Tzipi Livni), the Irgun operations officer.[1]

On April the 19th 1947, Dov Gruner and three other Irgun members (Yehiel Dresner, Mordechai Alkahi and Eliezer Kashani) who were captured by the British 6th Airborne Division were hanged in Acre Prison to become the first post war ‘martyrs’ of the Irgun. At his trial, Dov Gruner declared the British Army and Administration to be ‘criminal organizations’.

The Lehi and Irgun prisoners considered an escape but concluded that would be impossible without an outside assistance, so they contacted the Irgun headquarters with a plan.

The assigned commander for the operation was Dov Cohen - AKA "Shimshon".

Preparations

Irgun men disguised as British soldiers.

The Irgun's reconnaissance efforts discovered a weak spot in the citadel: the southern wall right above a Turkish bath.

The break-in was originally planned for April, but was eventually planned for Sunday, May 4, 1947, at 4 p.m., the day the United Nations General Assembly convened to discuss the Palestine issue.

The logistic preparations were complicated: The Irgun purchased a truck, a jeep, two military pickup trucks and civil vehicles, all disguised as British. British army uniforms were also acquired.[1] a stock of civil clothings was also arranged in order to help the escapees assimilate into the population.

The Irgun smuggled into the prison TNT which was used to make 30 hand grenades and 2 bombs, each weighing one kilogram, to blast the prison walls open.

The Operation

The prison wall after the break.

On Sunday 4 May 1947, at 14:00 a military engineering unit of the Irgun, under the command of Dov Salomon and Yehuda Apiryon, was on its way to the nearby Turkish bath, disguised as telephone technicians and carrying ladders, TNT, ropes and other necessary incursion equipment. Meanwhile, other Irgun strike and escape forces were spread around the prison, disguised as British military convoys.[1]

The incursion occurred at 16:22 with a massive explosion that shocked the prison. One of the prisoners, Michael Eshbal, blew up grille at the corridor, while another group of prisoners delayed the British jailors with hand grenades and burning barricades.

34 Fighters attacked the prison. In the course of the retreat, the operation commander and two other fighters from the attacking forces were killed.[2] Another five fighters from the attacking forces were captured by the British along with eight escapees. 28 Lehi and Irgun prisoners escaped, and 182 Arab prisoners used this opportunity to escape as well.

Aftermath

A monument along the Acre promenade commemorating the break.

The New York Herald Tribune wrote that the underground had carried out "an ambitious mission, their most challenging so far, in perfect fashion", while in the House of Commons, Oliver Stanley asked what action His Majesty's Government was planning to take "in light of the events at Acre prison which had reduced British prestige to a nadir."[1]

The Jewish Agency called the break "an irresponsible suicidal act", while the Irgun commander Menachem Begin as an act of heroism.

Three out of the five men captured were sentenced to death.[3] The Irgun kidnapped two British sergeants and threatened to execute them if the British followed this judgment. The British did not give up and executed them, and in response the Irgun hanged the two sergeants.[4]

The Acre Prison break, with other operations had a strong moral effect on the Yishuv and on the fight for foundation of Israel. These operation is considered to have seriously damaged the British prestige and sped up to the foundation of the UNSCOP committee.[5]

The operation has later been commemorated by a monument on the Acre promenade.[3]

References

  1. ^ a b c d Lapidot, Yehuda. "The Acre Prison Break". Jewish Virtual Library. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/Acre.html. Retrieved 2008-01-15.  
  2. ^ Robinson, James. "Acre Jail Break". http://www.britains-smallwars.com/Palestine/Acre.htm. Retrieved 2008-01-15.  
  3. ^ a b Aisenberg, Lydia (2006-06-08). "Heroism reflected in stone". Jerusalem Post. http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull&cid=1149572640271. Retrieved 2008-01-15.  
  4. ^ "Kidnappings, Beatings, Murders and Hangings". http://www.britains-smallwars.com/Palestine/kidnap.htm. Retrieved 2008-01-15.  
  5. ^ http://domino.un.org/unispal.nsf/9a798adbf322aff38525617b006d88d7/fb6dd3f0e9535815852572dd006cc607!OpenDocument UN Doc A/364 Add. 1 of 3 September 1947] See Annex 10 Letter; dated 17 June 1947 from relatives of the men sentenced to death by the Jerusalem Military Court on 16 Juno 1947
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The Acre Prison break was a operation undertaken by the Irgun on May 4, 1947 in the British Mandate of Palestine, in which its men broke through the walls of Acre prison and freed 28 incarcerated Irgun and Lehi members.

Contents

Background

At the time of the British Mandate the citadel in the old city of Acre was used as a prison. In total, the prison contained 700 Arab prisoners and 90 Jewish prisoners, the latter mainly members of the Jewish underground groups Hagana, Lehi, and Irgun, who were captured by the British. One of those prisoners was Eitan Livni (father of Tzipi Livni), the Irgun operations officer.[1]

On April 19, 1947, four Irgun members, Dov Gruner, Yehiel Dresner, Mordechai Alkahi and Eliezer Kashani, who were captured by the British 6th Airborne Division, were hanged in Acre Prison to become the Irgun's first postwar 'martyrs'. At his trial, Dov Gruner declared the British Army and Administration to be 'criminal organizations'.

The Lehi and Irgun prisoners mulled an escape but concluded that would be impossible without outside assistance. They therefore contacted Irgun headquarters with a plan. Dov Cohen, AKA "Shimshon", was selected to lead the operation.

Prelude

The break-out was originally planned for April, but was eventually rescheduled for Sunday, May 4, 1947, at 4 p.m., the day the United Nations General Assembly convened to discuss the Palestine issue.

The logistic preparations were complicated: The Irgun purchased a truck, a jeep, two military pickup trucks and civilian vehicles, which were then disguised as British. British army uniforms were also acquired.[1] a stock of civil clothings was also arranged in order to help the escapees assimilate into the population.

Irgun reconnaissance efforts had discovered a weak spot in the citadel: the southern wall right above a Turkish bath. The Irgun had therefore smuggled TNT into the prison, which was then used to improvise 30 hand grenades and 2 bombs, each weighing one kilogram, to blast the prison walls open.

The Operation

On Sunday, May 4, 1947, at 14:00 a military engineering unit of the Irgun, under the command of Dov Salomon and Yehuda Apiryon, made its way to the nearby Turkish bath, disguised as telephone technicians and carrying ladders, TNT, ropes and other necessary incursion equipment. Meanwhile, other Irgun strike and escape teams spread around the prison, disguised as British military convoys.[1]

The excursion occurred at 16:22 with a massive explosion that shook the prison. One of the prisoners, Michael Eshbal, blew up the grille at the corridor, while another group of prisoners delayed the British jailors with hand grenades and burning barricades.

34 Jewish guerilla fighters attacked the prison. In the course of the retreat, Dov Cohen and two other fighters from the attacking force were killed.[2] Another five fighters from the attacking force were captured by the British, along with eight escapees. 28 Lehi and Irgun prisoners escaped, as did 182 Arab prisoners.

Aftermath

The New York Herald Tribune wrote that the underground had carried out "an ambitious mission, their most challenging so far, in perfect fashion", while in the House of Commons, Oliver Stanley asked what action His Majesty's Government was planning to take "in light of the events at Acre prison which had reduced British prestige to a nadir."[1]

The Jewish Agency called the break "an irresponsible suicidal act", while Irgun commander Menachem Begin hailed it as an act of heroism.

Three out of the five men captured were sentenced to death.[3] The Irgun kidnapped two British sergeants, Clifford Martin and Mervyn Paice, and threatened to execute them should the British carry out the death sentences. When the British did not relent and had the Irgun men executed, the Irgun hanged the two sergeants.[4]

The Acre Prison break, with other operations had a strong moral effect on the Yishuv and on the fight for foundation of Israel. It is considered to have seriously damaged the British prestige and sped up to the foundation of the UNSCOP committee.[5]

The operation is commemorated by a monument on the Acre promenade.[3]

References

  1. ^ a b c d Lapidot, Yehuda. "The Acre Prison Break". Jewish Virtual Library. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/Acre.html. Retrieved 2008-01-15. 
  2. ^ Robinson, James. "Acre Jail Break". http://www.britains-smallwars.com/Palestine/Acre.htm. Retrieved 2008-01-15. 
  3. ^ a b Aisenberg, Lydia (2006-06-08). "Heroism reflected in stone". Jerusalem Post. http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull&cid=1149572640271. Retrieved 2008-01-15. 
  4. ^ "Kidnappings, Beatings, Murders and Hangings". http://www.britains-smallwars.com/Palestine/kidnap.htm. Retrieved 2008-01-15. 
  5. ^ UN Doc A/364 Add. 1 of 3 September 1947 See Annex 10 Letter; dated 17 June 1947 from relatives of the men sentenced to death by the Jerusalem Military Court on 16 Juno 1947


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