Monday, June 11, 2012

The Irgun's Camel Bomb

Researching for my next map project, operations of the three Resistance Underground groups in Mandate Palestine engaged in counter-Arab terror defense and anti-British actions in the Tel Aviv area, I discovered one of which I had no idea.

It seems that in the summer of 1947, Nahum Slonim, a commander of the Irgun's strike force, received permission to attempt to blow up the British officers' club and hostel in Jaffa. Jaffa,, at the time, was an Arab stronghold and by then, roadblocks at entry points were set up and it was difficult for Jews to enter, unless they had go reason such as business or worked there and for sure, the area near the hostel would be under tight guard. His idea was to load up a camel with explosives, have one of the Yeminite Irgunists lead it with an accompanying Irgunist to watch over and, if the need arose, to intervene. The hostel's porch overlooking the sea extended out with an empty space below.  The idea was to tie the camel under the porch, initiate a delay mechanism and saunter off.

And so, on August 7, 1947, the camel-laden bomb set off from Tel Aviv to Jaffa along the beach led by one Sulami and made its way towards Jaffa.  Unfortunately (or fortunately for the British soldiers and the camel - but more about that later - as it be), an Arab policeman's suspicion was aroused and the plan went awry.

Close to the target, Sulami was challenged and had to abandon the plan and the camel.  He was chased and caught and his back-up's attempted to save the situation also was unsuccessful  and he just barely escaped himself.

The report in the Palestine Post of April 8, 1947:-

My only question is: did the British first unload the camel or did they blow it up?


P.S.  The source for this is the book איש הח"ק by נחום סלונים as dictated to בנימין גבירצמן and published in 2009 (?) privately, pages 147-150.  The "Arab" was Gad Sullami.  The officers' club was at the Jabaliya station. Avraham Bruchiel was the accompanier.  Sullami's trual was in October and he was sentenced to life imprisonment/15 years but never revealed the true object of the detonation.  Here is the report from Davar, 30 October 1947:

and the Palestine Post:


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