Irgun Conducts Night of the Beatings
Irgun poster warning the British not to carry out the flogging punishment in 1946. Photo: Public Domain

December 29, 1946

The underground militant movement Irgun carries out the Night of the Beatings, an effort across Palestine to flog British soldiers in retribution for the lashing of captured Irgun members. Irgun members abduct soldiers in Netanya, Rishon LeZion and Tel Aviv and flog them in the streets, administering 18 lashes to each.

That matched the number of lashes the British administered to Irgun member Benjamin Kimkhi the previous day. Kimkhi, Benjamin Nes and Eliezer Sudit were caught after robbing a bank in Jaffa on Dec. 13 and were quickly tried and convicted of robbery and possession of illegal firearms. Kimkhi also was convicted of using a firearm with the intent of endangering life, but he refused to recognize the jurisdiction of the British court. He was sentenced to 18 years in prison and 18 lashes, commonly used in the British colonies. Around the same time, another Irgun member, Aharon Katz, was sentenced to 12 lashes for possession of propaganda material.

Viewing flogging as a humiliating practice, the Irgun published warnings in Hebrew and English that if the British whipped Kimkhi, the Irgun would do the same to British soldiers. Kimkhi received the 18 lashes Dec. 28.

The British respond to the flogging of their soldiers by hunting for Irgun members in several cities. The search results in beatings of Jewish residents and vandalism of homes and synagogues. A car carrying five Irgun men and a whip runs into a British roadblock in Kfar Saba. One, Avraham Mizrahi, is killed, and Eliezer Kashani, Mordechai Alkahi, Yehiel Dresner and Haim Golevsky are captured.

The four men refuse to recognize the authority of the military court that tries them in February 1947. They are convicted in 90 minutes. They stand and sing “Hatikvah” when they hear their sentences: death for Kashani, Alkahi and Dresner and life imprisonment for Golevsky, who at 17 is too young for capital punishment. The three are hanged April 16, 1947