Bombing of the King David Hotel
(July 22, 1946)
The King David Hotel was the site of the British military command
and the British Criminal Investigation Division. The Irgun chose
it as a target after British troops invaded the Jewish Agency
June 29, 1946, and confiscated large quantities of documents.
At about the same time, more than 2,500 Jews from all over Palestine
were placed under arrest. The information about Jewish Agency
operations, including intelligence activities in Arab countries,
was taken to the King David Hotel.
A week later, news of a massacre of 40 Jews in a pogrom in Poland reminded the Jews of Palestine how Britain's restrictive immigration
policy had condemned thousands to death.
Irgun leader Menachem Begin stressed his desire to avoid civilian
casualties and said three telephone calls were placed, one to
the hotel, another to the French Consulate, and a third to the
Palestine Post, warning that explosives in the King David Hotel
would soon be detonated.
On July 22, 1946, the calls were made. The call into the hotel
was apparently received and ignored. Begin quotes one British
official who supposedly refused to evacuate the building, saying:
"We don't take orders from the Jews."1 As a result,
when the bombs exploded, the casualty toll was high: a total of
91 killed and 45 injured. Among the casualties were 15 Jews. Few
people in the hotel proper were injured by the blast.2
In contrast to Arab attacks against Jews, which were widely hailed
as heroic actions, the Jewish National Council denounced the bombing
of the King David.3
For decades the British denied they had been warned. In 1979,
however, a member of the British Parliament introduced evidence
that the Irgun had indeed issued the warning. He offered the testimony
of a British officer who heard other officers in the King David
Hotel bar joking about a Zionist threat to the headquarters. The
officer who overheard the conversation immediately left the hotel
Government National Photo Collection
1. Menachem Begin, The
Revolt, (NY: Nash Publishing, 1977),
2. J. Bowyer Bell, Terror
Out Of Zion, (NY: St. Martin's
Press), p. 172.
3. Anne Sinai and I. Robert Sinai, Israel and the Arabs: Prelude
to the Jewish State, (NY: Facts on File, 1972), p. 83.
4. Benjamin Netanyahu, ed., "International Terrorism: Challenge
And Response," Proceedings of the Jerusalem Conference on
International Terrorism, July 25, 1979, (Jerusalem: The
Jonathan Institute, 1980), p. 45.