Today in History: King David Hotel Bombing

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By Emily Burack, Research Intern

Seventy years ago, on July 22, 1946, the bombing of the King
David Hotel occurred in Mandatory Palestine. The Irgun Zvai Leumi (Irgun), a
group that played a key role in the Jewish underground, orchestrated the attack
in response to a day known as “Black Sabbath,” June 29, 1946, when British
officials arrested nearly 3,000 Zionist officials and raided the Jewish Agency
headquarters. Menachem Begin, the commander in chief of the Irgun, wrote in his
memoir that the Irgun’s policy of “the
scope of the reprisal is equal to the magnitude of the attack” justified their
bombing of the King David Hotel: the British had raided the Jewish Agency
headquarters, so the Irgun would do the same. Amichai Paglin, the Chief
Operations Officer of the Irgun (later Menachem Begin’s counter-terrorism
advisor when Begin becomes Prime Minister), planned the bombing. The morning of
July 22, the Irgun planted a bomb in the basement of the hotel in milk cartons.
The bomb exploded, causing 91 casualties. Begin stated that they had issued
warnings to the hotel for everyone to evacuate, and places the blame for the

casualties

on the High Commissioner. Want
to learn more about the King David Hotel bombing and the Jewish underground?
Read Bruce Hoffman’s  award winning Anonymous Soldiers,
or check out items in the partner’s collections like Paul
Eidelberg’s The case of Israel’s Jewish Underground.

Bibliography:  King David Hotel Bombing and the Irgun Zvai
Leumi

Begin, Menachem. The Revolt: Story of the Irgun. New
York, H. Schuman, 1951.

Menachem Begin, commander in chief
of the Irgun and later Prime Minister of Israel, penned this memoir to tell the
tale of the Irgun from his perspective a mere 3 years after the state of Israel
was established. Part-autobiographical, part-political propaganda, the book
overviews the develop of the Irgun and delves into its actions during the
struggle against British authorities. The title – the Revolt – was the name of
the campaign declared on February 1st, 1944.

Clarke, Thurston. By Blood & Fire: The Attack on the
King David Hotel. New York: Putnam, 1981.

Dives in depth into the events
surrounding the King David Hotel bombing. Thurston’s title comes from the motto
of the Irgun: The Irgun believed that “in blood and fire Judea fell” and so,
“in blood and fire Judea will arise.”  

Commemoration related to the execution of four Jews by
British authorities in the July 1946 bombing of the King David Hotel in
Jerusalem

Eidelberg, Paul. The case of Israel’s Jewish Underground.
Dollard des Ormeaux, Quebec, Canada: Dawn Publishing Company, 1985.

Guryon, Yishak. Triumph on the Gallows. New York:
Brit Trumpeldor of America, 1950.

Hurewitz, J. C. The Struggle for Palestine. New York:
Schocken Books, 1976.

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