Tuesday, June 2, 2015

British reports on Hassan Salameh, an Arab terrorist leader killed in the War of Independence

Hassan Salameh (indicated by the arrow). Published in the Egyptian magazine "Al Musawar" on 12.1.1948 with the caption "The hero Hassan Salameh; Commander of the Southern front" (Wikipedia)

On June 2, 1948, Hassan Salameh, the commander of a Palestinian military organization in the Lydda and Ramle area, died of his wounds suffered while leading an attack on May 31 against members of the IZL (Irgun Tsvai Leumi or Irgun, the right wing Jewish resistance movement that fought the British Mandate government) who were holding the settlement of Rosh Ha'ayin. Today, 67 years after his death, the Israel State Archives is publishing some documents of the British Criminal Investigation Department (CID) concerning Hassan Salameh (File P 3056/56 in the Archives).

According to the CID documents, Salameh was born in the village of Qula in the Lydda district (not far from the city of Modi'in today) sometime between 1910 and 1912 (the exact year is not clear). From 1937 on, he participated in terror attacks during the Great Arab Revolt of 1936-1939 against British rule. Among his actions was an attack on a train near Ramle on October 14 1937, and he was wounded during the attack. After the failure of the revolt, Salameh escaped from Palestine and arrived in Rome after the beginning of the Second World War, while staying in contact with the leader of the revolt, Hajj Amin al-Husseini (who arrived in Berlin after the failure of the Iraqi pro-Axis insurrection in 1941). On October 1944, German Intelligence parachuted a team of saboteurs composed of German and Arab agents near Jericho, in an operation code named ATLAS. The saboteurs planned, among other missions, to poison the springs in Rosh Ha'ayin, which delivered water to Tel Aviv. Part of the team was caught in a large manhunt conducted by the British security forces (led by the commander of the Jericho police, Faiz Bey al-Idrissi, the highest ranking Arab officer in the Palestine Police) but two managed to run away – Salameh and a German, originally from the German Templar community in Palestine named Deiniger. In the British CID files we find two documents regarding the affair: The first from October 31, 1944 and the second dated November 3, 1944.
Three weeks after fighting between Jews and Arabs broke out in Palestine which eventually led to the war of Independence, on December 22 1947, the superintendent of police in the Lydda district was asked by the district commissioner for information on Salameh, described as "one of the two most active trouble-makers in the country at present" (he doesn’t mention who the other "trouble-maker" is). The CID replied on December 30, sending a full brief on Salameh and an attached letter. One of the interesting facts arising from the brief (paragraph 8) is that in 1939, after escaping to Syria, Salameh offered his services to the British whom he had been fighting , but they declined his offer.

Salameh's son, Ali Hassan Salameh (1940-1979) joined the FATAH organization and during the 1970s led the "Black September" organization, which conducted a series of murderous terror attacks against Israel. The most notorious of the operations was the attack and murder of the Israeli sportsmen in the Munich Olympics in September 1972. In January 1979, Ali Hassan Salameh was assassinated in Beirut.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting... I never knew that the "Red Prince" was an apple which didn't fall far from the tree...

    I guess the "prince" part, just like the" red" (blood) was literal...