Wednesday, July 28, 2010

On The King David Hotel Operation

Former Irgun fighter recalls bombing of British headquarters in Jerusalem's King David Hotel, which left more than 90 people dead. Sarah Agassi says armed Jewish group warned occupants to evacuate building. 'My conscience is clear,' she says 64 years after the operation, 'it was war'


The British have claimed that the warning was not received on time.

"What are they going to say? That they were warned but failed to act? We informed them on time. Two minutes after 12:30. Everything happened so quickly. They had a half-hour. Had they evacuated the building at 12:35, things would never have developed as they did."

Jews were also killed in the hotel.

"So, what could I have done? We gave the warning. My conscience is clear. And when they killed Jews over nothing – for hanging posters – was that not also painful? It was war. We operated like soldiers. We did not hesitate. I merely carried out orders. That's all."

..."After I gave birth I remained in the hospital for a month due to a fever. (Deceased Irgun commander and prime minister) Menachem Begin attended the circumcision ceremony and congratulated me," she says.

"To us (Begin) was a god, but I became disappointed in him later on. While in London in 1972, journalists called him a terrorist and a murderer. He told them that upon his return to Israel he would gather testimonies from the people who were there (King David operation). When he returned he summoned me to Metzudat Zeev (Likud headquarters in Tel Aviv) to talk about the explosion. He wanted me to speak at a special press conference he had organized," Agassi says.

"I told him, 'Mr. Begin, I work for the Histadrut's executive committee. If they see me in Metzudat Zeev with you tomorrow, I'll surely lose my job.' He said, 'Don't worry; I'll take care of you. You'll work for us.' I appeared on television and was fired the next day. I told him I was out of a job, but he said, 'The party doesn't have any money.'

"I was very angry, but we stayed in touch. He was a very nice man," says Agassi, who agreed to speak of the incident to promote a 13-minute film about her life, which is being produced as part of the international project, which documents the lives of Jews and Arabs.

Agassi, whose husband died a few years ago, is carrying on her family's legacy with pride.

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