Conflict before Independence

 

Avi Gordon was born in Tel Aviv in 1939.
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He writes:
        During the conflict after the war I was only 7-8 years old so my memories are as a child, I didn't really understand the conflict at the time.   I remember very well the Irgun people gluing sheets of propaganda paper to the walls. They used to wear handkerchiefs over their faces, with a hat.

 

On the corner of King George and Rashi St. was a cross wire over the intersection. A flag with the emblem of " rak kach " was hung right over the intersection center.

 

One Saturday I was in the synagogue with my father, when, all of a sudden, two men with covered face without hats walked in and gave the people leaflets.I asked my father why these people were allowed to enter without head cover. I was told to shut up.

  

 I remember British soldiers searching our home for illegal weapons, and some other episodes.

 

I remember the " Otzer Hagadol ", where for four days no one was allowed to leave their homes.  King George Street in Tel Aviv was divided by barbed wires for its whole length, in order to divide the city into sections.  In the first day, to my amusement my father unlocked the main door.  About twenty minutes later, two British paratroopers walked into the apartment.I recognized them as such by the red berets they wore, and their red faces.Anyway, once they walked in they placed their rifles at the roomís corner, demanded to open every cabinet door and they searched the contents.Finally, they arrived at the liquor cabinet.My mother opened it up, took out cookies and offered them some with a shot of liquor.Both blushed, they took one cookie each, picked up their guns and walked out embarrassed. That afternoon my father was detained. Later we found out he was at Gan Meir Park.My mother gave me a container full of lemonade with ice.It was very hot that afternoon, I got to the fence, there was a British trooper at the entrance. He ordered me to stop, opened the container, took few drinks out of it for himself, and told me with his hand to go in. I did.   I found my father with other men in an open area under the hot sun. I gave him the drink.  In a few minutes, the lemonade was gone.   There was one women detained, she was placed under the shade of a tree and was encircled by barbed wire. My father was released after a day. He came home. Four days later in the afternoon we heard a shot, it meant a break in the curfew. Everyone went to the bakery next door, the business was conducted through the window, a long line was formed , business was brisk .   Two days later the curfew was over.

 

I was told by my friends that the English soldiers under their kilts didn't wear anything. (do you mean Scottish, Avi?English soldiers donít wear kilts. - editor) One time I made it my business to place myself under the back of a truck to watch the kilt-wearing soldiers climbing up.To my amazement they wore khaki shorts under their kilts !      

 

At one time I got cut next to my knee.Three British soldier saw it.They picked me up, and dressed the wound.  I came home, my mother asked me what had happened, I told her.†† She told me that some of the English are very nice.

 

I also remember a group of English soldiers that took the building of " Hanoar Haoved " for their H.Q.   There was a group of soldiers sitting there.One man came in, started yelling at them , they took me away , and placed me out of the fence.   I also remember the armoured cars, the jeeps with a wire cutter rod in front of them .  

                            These are some of my memories , once in a while I do get a flash back.If any thing else pops up , I'll let you know .     

 

Avi Gordon's interesting reminiscences about the Otzer Hagadol in Tel Aviv prompted James Knaggs, to recall his part in that event. He writes:
 
I read with interest the article by AVI GORDON, particularly his memories of the big curfew and search of Tel Aviv in 1946
 
As young men, most of us had little thought about how it would have affected young children. The curfew and search followed the King David Hotel bombing and was aimed at picking up as many terrorist suspects as possible. We were all roped in for the operation and as usually happened I was attached to CID screening. I was bag-carrier to Sgt Martin of Jewish Affairs. He was murdered in Haifa just a few weeks later, shot by the Irgun outside his flat one lunchtime as he turned to wave goodbye to his wife.
 
Our top-screening unit was set-up in the quadrangle of a secondary school - can't remember which. The army provided the cordons and the searching was done by police assisted by the Airborne Division and other units. Arrested suspects were sent by army transport from field-screening to the top-screening unit where they were held in temporary barbed-wire cages. After screening, they were either detained or sent back home under escort - most were sent home as seems to have happened in the case of Avi's father.
 
My little part in the operation was to wade through the long CID terrorist suspect lists while Sgt Martin did the questioning.
 
One of the terrorists we were after was Menechem Begin. CID had information on where he was supposed to be hiding but drew a blank. I remember they went back again that night and had another unsuccessful search. Years later, I read Begin's book and learned that he had been bricked in inside a false wall and almost suffocated.
 
On the final day of the curfew, while we were packing our equipment, one of the Airborne sergeants had a potter round a cellar, right below where out four screening tables had been standing. He noticed one of the walls seemed to have a very new coat of whitewash. He gave it a good thump, it collapsed and revealed a large room that was full of explosives and was being used as a hand-grenade and bomb factory. It took us a couple of hours to move everything out. On reflection , I can't help thinking they should have taken that sergeant round to Began's suspected hiding place.

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