2 Jewish Militants Kill Themselves Before Hanging

April 21, 1947

Two Jewish underground fighters, Moshe Barazani and Meir Feinstein, blow themselves up in a British prison in Jerusalem at night to avoid being hanged the next morning.

Barazani, a Kurdish Jew born in Iraq in 1926, moved to Jerusalem when he was 6 years old and joined the youth division of Lehi (the Stern Gang) at a young age. He distributed propaganda pamphlets and eventually graduated to sabotage operations. On March 9, 1947, British police caught him carrying a grenade meant for the assassination of a British officer in Jerusalem. He was convicted that month for illegal weapons possession and was sentenced to death.

Feinstein was born in Jerusalem in 1927 and joined the Haganah while living on a kibbutz. He used a fake birth certificate to enlist in the British army at age 16 during World War II and smuggled British weapons to the Irgun. After leaving the army, Feinstein participated in a sabotage mission at a railway station. He lost his arm in the attack and was sentenced to death for his role.

Barazani and Feinstein met in prison while awaiting their executions. They planned a final act of protest of the British Mandate. They arranged to have a grenade smuggled into their prison cell inside an orange and took their lives with it.

Feinstein and Barazani are memorialized in Israel today as two of the 12 Olei Hagardom — the members of the Irgun and Lehi who were sentenced to death by hanging by the British. Their story has such an impact on Menachem Begin that he is buried next to the two men on the Mount of Olives.

Photo source: National Library of Israel