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Avshalom Haviv (June 18 1926 - July 29 1947), of the Olei Hagardom, was a member of the Irgun underground caught and executed by the Britishmarker in the Acre Prison Break.

Childhood and Adolescence

Avshalom Haviv was born on June 18 1926 (Tammuz 6 5486 according to the Jewish calendar) in Haifamarker, the son of Rivkah and Eliezer. His father was a well-known merchant. Avshalom grew and received his education in Jerusalemmarker and resided with his family on Strauss street. In his youth he studied at the Tachkemoni School and when he was a student in high school in Beit Hakerem he was drawn towards nationalistic ideas. In his essays at the school he expressed his opinions on the achievements of the Zionist party and policy of the mandate's government. In an essay entitled "The Aspirations of an Enslaved Youth" he wrote, among other things:

My aspiration is: one language will take hold in the land, not German, not Yiddish will be spoken in the land of Israelmarker, but rather the language of the Tanakh, the ancient language of Hebrew. My ambition is the aliyah of all of the nation of Israel into the land of Israel and those that will dwell here on the two sides of the Jordan rivermarker, and the land that was promised to us by the English will be only ours. In this hoped-for time there will be here a Hebrew state like all states. Amen, ken yihyeh ratson! ["Amen, may it be your will!", a phrase used in the Jewish liturgy]

At the age of 16, he joined the Irgun underground, and received the nickname "Efraim".

His Work in the Underground

When he finished his studies he turned to a year of service in the Palmach. During this, he participated in an operation liberating detained immigrants in the Atlit detainee campmarker. One of the freed captives was Jacov Weiz, who would eventually be hanged with him.

When he finished his year of service in the Palmach, he began his studies in the Hebrew University of Jerusalemmarker, and at the same time returned to the Irgun. Gradually, he performed more and more within the framework of the ח"ק, the Combat Corps of the Irgun, and due to this ended his studies in the academy. In many operations Avshalom was used as a machine gunner. He participated mainly in attack operations of the central secret police which was in Jerusalem and the offices of governmental income tax. Haviv also participated in the Irgun's attempt to free imprisoned members from the central prison in the Russian Compoundmarker. One of the operations in which Haviv participated was in the bombing of "Goldschmidt House Officers Club" on March 1 1947. It was Shabbat, and Avshalom, who was traditionally religious, left the synagogue during prayer. In the operation he was commanded to cover the intruders with fire from a Bren gun. Avshalom's hand was seriously injured from the searing barrel of the machine gun but continued to fire meticulously during the entire operation.

His final operation was his order on the blocking position that scattered mines in the Acre Prison break operation on May 4. During it, he was captured with four other Irgun fighters after their position used up all of their munitions. These were Meir Nakar, Jacov Weiz, Amnon Michaelov, and Nachman ציטרבוים.

The Trial and Verdict

The trial began on Wednesday, May 28, 1947, and this after being delayed for two days due to Jacov Weiz's illness. The accused parties received the members of the court with the song Hatikvah. The judges stood up during the song, and were rebuked afterwards by the presiding judge for shaming the court. Avshalom asked to read a declaration in response to the judge's question, but was told by the President of the Court that he had to answer questions and not recite declarations. When Haviv insisted they ordered two policemen to return him by force. Meanwhile the accused parties disrupted the trial. They did not answer the judge's questions, asked their friends to answer for them, or alternatively got up from their places or pretended to doze off. When the witnesses were called up the defendants chatted among themselves and exchanged jokes. In isolated incidents the defendants referred to the events preceding their trial. Avshalom got up and asked one of the witnesses, a British soldier who was present during his detention: "Can you explain to me precisely what you meant when you said to me 'gas chambers are a game compared to what is expected for you in Israel'?". When they didn't return an accusing question, the defendants continued to have a discussion between themselves and to draw caricatures of the members of the court.

The trial lasted 14 days. 35 witnesses were called up, and then came the time for the side of the defense. The defendants who originally opposed the authority of the court to judge them, also opposed defense proceedings. Despite this each prepared a long affidavit with statements against the tyrannical British rule. The defendants delivered their affidavits on June 10, 1947. In his affidavit Avshalom equated the Irish revolution in Britain to the underground struggle in the land of Israel. He finished his speech thusly:

On June 16 the court assembled with the delegation of Colonel פל, Major Lee Hunter and Captain Barker at 11:10. In its procession Lieutenant Colonel Norman, the vice commander of the head army in Israel also attended. The jurors entered late by 15 minutes in their complaint towards the presiding judge because he conducted a "precise, extended, and embarrassing" body check on them. The matter constituted part of the enormous protection ring that was placed on the hall and surrounding the court. The check even included the cigarette cases, matches, and fountain pens. In the hall many outside journalists attended.

In coordination, the convicted parties sat bound and sang songs of the Betar. The songs were also translated for the foreign journalists. They were entered into the hall under heavy guard with chains on their hands and legs. It is said that Avshalom refused to raise his legs for the handcuffs and in a loud voice answered the British jailer "If the British mandate wants to put handcuffs on me, may it submit!". Only some moments before the assembly of the panel of the court did they remove the shackles. The accused calmed their families "We will yet laugh at them, and if not us, others will laugh." The presiding judge, Colonel פל, declared that the accuseds were found guilty with all the accusations. Because of the judges the lawyers brought documents regarding the young age of Michaelov and Nachman ציטרבוים.

The consultation over the verdict lasted close to two hours. The congregation and the journalists were transferred by the police to a grated porch under the sun. The resentment of the journalists over the "confinement" didn't help. After the two hours the presiding judge entered the hall wearing a red hat, a sign that the verdict was death. He informed that the three, Meir Nakar, Jacov Weiz, and Avshalom Haviv were sentenced to "hanging until their spirit departs". Amnon Michaelov and Nachman ציטרבויםwere sentenced to confinement "until the commissioner choses to free them" and this because of their young age. When they heard the verdict the accuseds burst into singing "Hatikvah" and the crowd in the hall joined them. Immediately afterwards the entire crowd was put onto the barred porch for three quarters of an hour until the jury left. It was said to the crowd that whoever would try to leave outside would "be shot in place". The judged parties were loaded into an armored vehicle that made its way to the Acre Prisonmarker. Avshalom's mother exercised self-control when the verdict was declared and didn't say a thing.

From evidence of the newspaper Davar that investigated Haviv's house emerged that his family held on to the hope that he would be saved, and that from the visit of the UN council in those days. Avshalom sent a message to his family: "We are ready to sabotage, the question is how are you ready for it?" On the 29th of Tammuz, the day of the release of the leader of the Irgun, Ze'ev Jabotinsky, the three judged parties and Avshalom were promoted from ר"ק (ראש קבוצה) to sergeant (סמל). The Irgun approached the UN council with a memorandum for them to annul the death sentence, and this to the light of the reading of the UN on all sides to refrain from violence during the investigation (and also on the basis of a similar event which occurred in Greecemarker) and of the fact that no one from the security forces lost their life in the attack on the Acre Prison apart from the underground fighters. In the investigation council indeed most of the support developed for intervention in the affair, but after the matter was brought to the chairman of the council and after stormy deliberations behind closed doors, it was decided on June 23 not to adopt a position contrary to the decision of the mandate. Together with this the answer of the government of the mandate was for a conference concerning the three convicts surprised it in its hostility, worsened the relations between the parties, and even resulted in the shortening in the length of the stay of the council in the land of Israel. To the chief commissioner turned also David Ben-Gurion, Chaim Weitzman, and the head rabbis in pleas for amnesty. To them joined many bodies that called for amnesty, including the council of the Sephardic union, the council of Ramat Ganmarker, American students, and even the New York Post and Czechmarker newspapers (of the publishing of וויס). One after another were deferred the applications and pressures.

The convicts passed their time in the chamber studying and reciting Tehillim. When the rabbi of the prisoners Aryeh Levin visited them they received him in happiness and to transmit that their condition was strong. On July 8 at 01:00 the commander of the army confirmed the verdict. In due course the Irgun would capture two British sergeantsmarker as a guarantee that if they would realize the verdict, they would hang the sergeants as "an eye for an eye".

Ascending the gallows

On the night of Monday, July 28, the prisoners in the prison heard Hatikvah breaking from the condemned to deaths' chamber. Suddenly the rumor spread that that night would be their hanging. The entire night the three sang songs of the underground and the rebellion. At 02:00 the head Sephardic Rabbi of Haifamarker came to them, ניסים אוחנה. He spent a quarter hour with them to encourage them, but in fact it was them who heartened him. Amnon Michaelov, who was judged with them and was in Acre Prison at that time transmitted with his written testimony:

Michaelov says that later that night the doors of the corridor opened and the hangman approached the convicts' cell, some policemen, a military doctor and the manager of the prison in Nablusmarker.

Some time afterwards, the prisoners suddenly heard strong singing of "Hatikvah" breaking from the area of the oubliette. Then all the Jewish prisoners joined in the singing, filling the walls of the building. After twenty minutes, at 04:00 on Tuesday, the prisoners heard the singing voice of Avshalom. In the middle of singing his voice was cut off, when his spirit departed. He was hanged at 4:03. Haviv died on July 29 at the age of 21. The voice after him identified itself as Meir. Like Avshalom, he also sang until his last moments. After twenty minutes his body was brought out, and at 04:25 Jacov Weiz was ascended to the gallows, that he also sang "Hatikvah" when the prisoners were joining him.

After their deaths

The next day, July 30, at 10 in the morning, the three's funeral went out from הר כנען to the graveyard in Safedmarker in a convoy lead by a military vehicle and after it a car of the family and "chevra kadisha". The first to be buried was Nakar, after him Weiz and Haviv third. The shock in Israel was deep, and this in addition to the affair that took place in those days and created a storm in the settlement - of the SS Exodus.

On that very day Charlton resigned from his command, the manager of the Acre Prison. It is known that he refused to execute the hangings by himself and thus a replacement was brought to him.

In addition to these, following the three's hanging, on July 30 executed their threat and hanged the two sergeantsmarker that were kidnapped. This operation which shocked Britain (despite the explicit threat placed before it), sealed the grave of the hanging of Jews in the land of Israel. Meir Nakar, Jacov Weiz and Avshalom Haviv were the last to ascend the British gallows in Israel.

See also


  1. Jewish Virtual Library: Haviv Avshalom
  2. Avshalom Haviv / Meir Nakar / Yaacov Weiss
  3. Avshalom Haviv on

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