Military Review

Mussolini bombers over Haifa and Tel Aviv

Mussolini bombers over Haifa and Tel AvivShai Doron, now a military pensioner, was 10 years old when he first saw Italian bombers in the skies over Tel Aviv. “They were walking at a low altitude, on a low-level flight,” he told a HBO correspondent, “they had nothing to fear.” Indeed, on that day, 9 of September, 1940, of the year, neither the planes nor the British anti-aircraft artillery were able to protect the inhabitants of Tel Aviv. Later, the Italians bombed Haifa several times. And while only one aircraft was shot down. And not by the British, but by the Jewish military detachments.


From 1922 of the year to 15 in May of 1948, the territory of present-day Israel and the Palestinian national autonomy was called mandate, because after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, it was governed by London under the “mandate” of the League of Nations. In turn, the Jewish population was called the Hebrew word "Yishuv", which in ancient times was called simply a populated place. Although Shay Doron was a child in those years, according to his recollections, the September attack on the Yishuv was carried out by five Italian aircraft, whose landing gear was not removed. Undoubtedly, Doron saw the SM-79 three-engine Savoy Marchetti bombers, which the famous Italian aircraft designer Alessandro Marchetti designed in 1934. They were produced by Pipistrello for Regia Aeronautica (Royal Air Forces of Italy). In 1940, this type of bombers was considered already obsolete, but it was their Italians who used the bombing attacks on the Mediterranean theater of operations. The planes started from the island of Rhodes, which belonged to Italy since 1912. More than all the sorties to the territory of the future State of Israel were made by pilots of the 41-th battalion of the 205-th squadron. They bombed vertically from medium heights with bombs weighing 50 and 100 kg.

During the Italian raid aviation On Tel Aviv on September 9, 1940, 62 bombs were dropped. The civilian population did not have information about the possibility of such raids, and therefore no security measures were taken. Shai Doron recalls that the bombs fell in the area of ​​the central streets Bugrashov and Trumpeldor, as well as near Ben Zion Boulevard and the Gabima Theater (by the way, the brainchild of the famous Russian director Yevgeny Vakhtangov). As a result of this attack, 137 people died and 350 were injured.

Apparently, the attack on Tel Aviv was demonstrative. The only military purpose of this raid could be the port of Jaffa, adjacent to Tel Aviv. But the pilots Duce dropped bombs far from him. The port of Jaffa was completely unhurt. Nevertheless, according to the results of this raid, the Italians published a communique in which they boastfully stated that “during the raid on Tel Aviv, the equipment of the port was destroyed, and the port itself was in flames”. But the Nazis lied! The flame covered residential areas of the city. Aid to the victims was provided by Australian soldiers stationed in the city.

The command of the fascist Italian troops chose to attack this city as the largest in the Promised Land. Apparently, for the same reason, the Germans bombed Tel Aviv in July 1941. The same Shay Doron testifies that at that time one Luftwaffe bomber dropped a single bomb that hit the nursing home on Marmorek Street. With the destruction of the house and the resulting fire, 12 of elderly people died.


Strategically, Rome was interested in damaging the Haifa oil refineries, which produced about 1 million tons of fuel per year. Therefore, the first bomb strikes by Mussolini pilots made it to Haifa, which today is called the northern capital of Israel.
15 July 1940, after nine in the morning, Italian pilots in two formations - each with five airplanes - dropped bombs on the Haifa oil refinery, storage facilities of the famous British company Shell International Petroleum. In this raid, one worker died and three were injured. July 24 raid on Haifa repeated. There were more casualties here - 46 people were killed and 88 were injured. For the third time, Mussolini pilots bombarded Haifa 6 August 1940. However, this time anti-aircraft gunners from the Palmach (abbreviation from Plugot Makhats - “Shock Detachments”) opened anti-aircraft fire and shot down an Italian bomber. The Italians, accustomed to impunity in the airspace above the Holy Land, were strongly opposed and preferred to retreat immediately. Nevertheless, they managed to throw off thousands of leaflets in Italian, which said: “We came to set you free. The day of the liberation of the Arab nations is approaching by leaps and bounds. "

Palmach is a unit created in coordination with the British command of the leadership of the Hagany (Defense), a semi-underground organization that set itself the task of rebuilding an independent Jewish state. With the formation of "Palmach" the situation was to a large extent paradoxical. After all, the meaning of the creation of the “Hagany” was in the military opposition of the “Yishuv” to the British, as colonialists. 17 May 1939 was published the so-called "White Book" - in fact, the report of the Minister of the Colonies of Great Britain Malcolm Macdonald to the British Parliament. The “White Book” effectively deprived European Jews of a chance to escape the Nazi persecution in Palestine, since it prohibited the majority of refugees from arriving at the local ports. However, England, from whatever side she looked, opposed Hitler Germany. Therefore, David Ben-Gurion, who became Israel’s first Prime Minister a few years later, proposed the following relationship formula at the beginning of World War II: “We will assist Britain in the war, as if there is no White Paper, and fight Britain, as if there is no war. ” However, in essence, it was impossible to adhere to this intricate formula, therefore, during the Second World War, Hagan did not conduct anti-British operations.

His opponents from Etsel (Hebrew abbreviation from Irgun tzvi Leumi - National Military Organization) were forced to agree with the social democrat Ben-Gurion, ideologically close to the Russian Mensheviks. And nevertheless "Etsel" split. From it came a group led by a Russian-born Abraham Stern, who adopted the name Lehi (“Lohamei Herut Israel” - “Fighters for the Freedom of Israel”), who continued the full-scale war with the British invaders. The British announced the hunt for Stern and 12 in February 1942, he was shot dead.

As for Palmach, despite the cooperation with the British military, it was a completely pro-Soviet organization. Several years ago, the former “Palmakhovets” Shimon (Semyon) Donskoy, in an interview with an NVO correspondent, recalled: “In Palmach, there were the same“ political instructors ”as in the Red Army. We were brought up in unconditional faith in Stalin and in Soviet Russia. " It is significant that the head of Palmach was a native of Russia, Yitzhak Sade (Isaac Landsberg; 1890 – 1952), a man of unusual destiny. He volunteered for the Russian imperial army to fight the Germans, received awards for bravery three times, then served as a commander in the Red Army. However, speaking against the cruel treatment of prisoners of officers, in 1920, he fled to Wrangel. In the White Army, faced with overt manifestations of Terry anti-Semitism, he left Russia forever and moved to Palestine. Apparently, Yitzhak Sade, a former SR, with changing, but still left-wing political views, admired communism for a long time, because in his field tent there was always a prominent portrait of Stalin.

The British were forced to put up with the pro-Soviet "Palmahovtsy", because the whole "Yishuv", later became Israel, was preparing to confront the Germans, Italians, as well as the French collaborationists in Syria and Lebanon, who received orders from the Vichy government, Hitler's ally. All of them could break into what was then Palestine. In the Middle East, London could only rely on the Jews, for the Egyptian King Farouk and the Mufti of Jerusalem Haj (Muhammad) Amin al-Husseini unconditionally sided with Hitler. November 28 The 1941 of the year Berlin hosted a meeting between Hitler and al-Husseini. During the meeting, the Jerusalem mufti said that "the Arabs and the Nazis have the same enemies - the British, the Jews and the Communists." Al-Husseini contributed to the formation of Bosnian Muslim troops in the SS forces.

In the autumn of 1940, Italian aviation bombed not only Haifa and Tel Aviv, but a little earlier - June 22 and August August 11 - the Egyptian cities of Alexandria and Port Said respectively.


It is important to keep in mind that the leaders of the Jewish “Yishuv”, as early as 1938, began to prepare to repel possible aggression by fascist Italy and Germany. And this happened after the famous speech of the British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden, who was one of the first European politicians who directly declared the Nazis intent to exterminate the Jewish people. It is known that Eden resigned, because he spoke out against the Anglo-Italian Treaty of 16 on April 1938 of the year, in which official London, pandering to the aggressors, recognized the annexation of Ethiopia by Italy.

The Yishuv leadership repeatedly asked the British to distribute to the Jews weapon for self-defense in case of a breakthrough to the Middle East by the fascists or their minions. But London time after time in this request the Jews refused. True, the British authorities began to distribute instructions in English, which the local population should observe in the face of the threat of an air attack from enemy aircraft. Residents of Tel Aviv and Haifa were undergoing first aid. “In the event of bombardment,” the statement said, “you must be calm and take refuge in a shelter.” A similar instruction booklet was also published in Hebrew. There was, however, an important addition: it explained how to behave in the event of a gas attack. The military authorities also conducted several exercises, the largest of which were held in Haifa.

Of course, neither Palmach nor the Hagan as a whole were going to limit themselves to passive execution of instructions from the British military administration. According to the secretly developed plan "Masada" (in Hebrew "Matsada" - "fortress"), in the case of the Nazi invasion of Palestine under the gun are all capable men, women and teenagers. In this case, the analogy with the "Masada" is the most direct. After all, this was the name of the last stronghold of the Jews, who rebelled in the first century AD. against Roman dominion. Jewish defenders of the fortress preferred suicide to surrender to the enemy.

The Masada plan provided for measures to evacuate city residents to prepared shelters in the event Nazi forces moved through Palestine.


The military campaign unleashed by Mussolini in the Mediterranean developed for him in an unfavorable scenario. Declaring his intentions to completely seize this region, the Duce concentrated enormous forces on the military bases on the Rhodes and Dodecanese islands. They became a convenient target for British aviation. Therefore, the Regia Aeronautica and Luftwaffe raids quickly ended. The last attack by the Italian bombers on Tel Aviv was launched in June 1941 from the airfield in Syria, which at that time was controlled by the Vichy regime. Then 13 people died.

It must be said directly that the psychological consequences of the bombings by the Italians of Tel Aviv and Haifa have long been felt. This is what David Gefen writes about in his article “How It Was,” published in the Jerusalem Post, an English-language Israeli newspaper: “The attack of Italian aviation left a much deeper mark on the lives of Tel Avivians than subsequent wars with the Arabs. During the attacks of the Egyptian aviation in 1948, a little more than 20 people died. The number of victims of aerial bombardment in September alone 1940, was almost seven times more. And if the Jews in Israel were psychologically prepared for casualties in the war with the Arabs, they were completely unprepared in a situation when a country that they did not consider their enemy to destroy was at home. ”

In this regard, I recall a line from the poem "Italian", written in 1943 by the famous Soviet poet Mikhail Svetlov. As if addressing the Italian soldier-aggressor killed in the open spaces of Russia, the poet asks: “Why could you not be happy / Above your native famous bay?”

And David Gefen is right, who at the end of his article, describing Mussolini, said: "The ambitions of the militant dictator of Italy cost the lives of dozens of Jews, and this was forever imprinted in the hearts of the Israelis."
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  1. Aaron Zawi
    Aaron Zawi 14 June 2013 08: 00
    Today, serious historians in Israel have no doubt that Comrade Stalin began the mass repatriation of Soviet Jews as early as the 1948 year, that the pro-Soviet forces in the first Kneset of 49 of the year received at least 40% of the seats. History does not have a subjunctive mood, but sometimes it is so interesting to imagine what it would be. what
    1. Oberst_71
      Oberst_71 14 June 2013 09: 10
      “There is no need to downplay the role played in the creation of Bolshevism and genuine participation in the Russian revolution, of international Jewish atheists. Moreover, the main inspiration and driving force comes from the Jewish leaders. In Soviet institutions, the predominance of Jews is more than surprising, and the main part in the implementation of the terror system established by the emergency Commission against Counter-Revolution was carried out by Jews and, in some cases, Jews. The same diabolical fame was achieved by the Jews during the period of terror, when Bel Kun ruled Hungary.
      It seems that the gospel of Christ and the preaching of the Antichrist were destined to be born in the bowels of the same people, and that this mystical and mysterious race was chosen for the highest manifestations of both the divine and the devil .... A worldwide conspiracy to subvert culture and remake society on The principles of stopping progress, envious malice and unthinkable equality continued to grow continuously.
      He (the conspiracy) was the main spring of all the subversive movements of the 19th century; and, finally, now this gang of unusual personalities, scum of the big cities of Europe and America, grabbed the hair of the Russian people in their hands, in fact becoming the undivided master of a vast empire. There is no need to exaggerate the role of these international and mostly godless Jews in creating Bolshevism and in conducting the Russian revolution. "Their role is undoubtedly very large, probably it significantly outweighs the role of everyone else." W. Churchill 1919
    2. avt
      avt 14 June 2013 09: 41
      Quote: Aron Zaavi
      Today, serious historians in Israel have no doubt that Comrade Stalin began the mass repatriation of Soviet Jews back in 1948, that the pro-Soviet forces in the first Knesset in 49 gained at least 40% of the seats. History does not have a subjunctive mood, but sometimes it’s so interesting to imagine that it would be

      It would be all the same, only the number and tonality of the voices accusing Stalin and the Soviet people of anti-simitism would sound an order of magnitude louder and tonality higher. request Well, Mlechin and Svanidze would have frolic in full shocking with facts and equating us with the Hitler regime, and only Radzinsky was brushing his teeth about the fact that Stalin somewhere, probably in secret NKVD’s deadlocks, was collecting cars for the deportation of Jews.
    3. avt
      avt 14 June 2013 11: 04
      Quote: Aron Zaavi
      Today, serious historians in Israel have no doubt that Comrade Stalin began the mass repatriation of Soviet Jews back in 1948, that the pro-Soviet forces in the first Knesset in 49 gained at least 40% of the seats.

      Actually, before putting forward versions and creating fantasy, it would not be a sin for historians to look at documents on the congress in Baden Baden 1876, seem to be a year, and get acquainted with the main motives for the creation of the state of Israel expressed by Theodor Herzel, seem to be at this very congress, if the confused date is aliased, they’ll correct let historians or more knowledgeable comrades.
      1. Professor
        Professor 14 June 2013 11: 42
        Quote: avt
        It’s not a sin for historians to look at the documents on the congress in Baden Baden 1876 seem a year

        World Zionist Congress
  2. Ascetic
    Ascetic 14 June 2013 11: 50
    As for the "Palm", then, despite the cooperation with the British military, it was completely pro-Soviet organization.

    The British since their inception in May 1941. trained and funded Palmach. They loved to create everywhere "native units" as cannon fodder. Here is what Uri Milstein, the famous Israeli historian and army researcher, writes in his book Rabin: the birth of a myth.
    About 27.000 Jews of Mandatory Palestine volunteered for the British army. The British saw them as first-class cannon fodder, but feared that a Jewish army would be created inadvertently. In the end, after a tense political struggle, the Jewish Brigade was formed, but "Palestinian Jews" were not admitted to positions above the company commander. Yet these volunteers received invaluable military experience. Yishuv could also count on the help of Jews who served in the armies of Poland, South Africa, America and France, even from the Red Army "deserters" were getting ready for the sake of their people to shed blood in a new war.

    Therefore, to say that the combat detachment of Hagan was completely pro-Soviet, I personally hardly believe it. After Rommel was defeated, the need for Palm in the British fell away and they stopped funding and training fighters. It came to a point where palmists were forced to work in kibbutzim and their salaries contained an organization. Only after the war did the Palm Zionist parties (MAPAM) take over Palm and took over the political education of the Palmovites as a fighting detachment of socialist Zionism. Here it is already possible to speak of a pro-Soviet orientation for the parties included in MAPAM were considered pro-Soviet.
    Here is what Milstein writes further
    Professional training was combined with intense party propaganda. The patron parties were pro-Soviet, therefore, for example, A. Beck's book "Panfilov's People" was considered compulsory; the book "Far from Moscow" and other Soviet political fiction were also popular. The notorious Meir Pail, commanding the IDF Officer's Courses, tried to revive the practice of political propaganda and include "Panfilov's men" in the training system of Israeli officers.

    In 1948 The palm tree was dissolved by Ben Gurion.
    In the fight against the revisionists, Ben-Gurion was not satisfied with just "brute force" (Histadrut and the party apparatus); it had to be supplemented with ideas and romance. The idea was supplied by the ideology of kibbutzian "equality", romance was supplied by the myth of the PALM. However, in order to fulfill this role, PALMAKH had to be associated with Ben-Gurion's party Mapai (now Avoda) no less than with the parties of the left wing. Ultimately, Ben-Gurion managed to achieve his goal: Israel for many years (and for many even now) is perceived as a state of kibbutzim and Palmakh.

    Only in June 1948 the special command of PALMAKH was dissolved, which was tantamount to its "dissolution". With one blow, Ben-Gurion achieved several goals. First, the ridiculous and harmful parallelism in the command structure was eliminated, then the hegemony of the Akhdut Ha-Avoda party in the armed forces was eliminated, and, finally, PALMACH, “dissolved” in the IDF, as it were, “passed on to him by inheritance” his entire mythology. This was the "domestication" of the PALMACH for the party purposes of Ben-Gurion.

    This is the role of the Palmach in the mythology of the state of Israel
  3. Katsin
    Katsin 14 June 2013 18: 39
    Quote: Aaron Zawi
    Today, serious historians in Israel have no doubt that Comrade Stalin began the mass repatriation of Soviet Jews as early as the 1948 year, that the pro-Soviet forces in the first Kneset of 49 of the year received at least 40% of the seats. History does not have a subjunctive mood, but sometimes it is so interesting to imagine what it would be. what

    If this is so, it is good that Comrade Stalin did not release Soviet Jews in 1948. In Israel, there are enough ugly rudiments of socialism