When Britain Imprisoned 1,500 Jewish Refugees from Hitler’s Europe in Mauritius

In the fall of 1940, some 3,500 Jews from Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Germany—many of whom had spent the previous two years in Dachau, and were released on the condition that they would leave Europe—made their way to the Romanian port of Tulcea, on the Black Sea. There they boarded three ships bound for Palestine, but Britain had other plans. Robert Philpot writes:

In October 1940, the colonial secretary, George Lloyd, requested the governor of Mauritius, [an island in the Indian Ocean then under British rule], to accommodate 4,000 Jewish refugees he believed were heading for Palestine. In some respects, Lloyd’s attitude was unsurprising: just a year before, the British government’s White Paper had set strict limits on the number of Jewish migrants who would be allowed into Palestine.

But enforcement of the quota wasn’t his only concern. The refugees, Lloyd warned the Mauritius governor, should be held in a camp, behind barbed wire and kept under constant guard. . . . The commander of British military forces in the Middle East similarly warned that it was unlikely that the Nazis would not attempt to plant agents among the refugees.

The British government was, however, not entirely at one in its approach and there was an undercurrent of disquiet. The prime minister, Winston Churchill, attempted to soften Lloyd’s orders that the refugees be held behind barbed wire, warning him: “We cannot have a British Dachau.” But Churchill’s request—that the Jews be treated as refugees and not criminals—was effectively ignored.

In December, despite the Haganah’s desperate attempts to interfere, 1,580 of the refugees—temporarily being held in a prison in Haifa—were sent on the seventeen-day oversea journey to Mauritius:

In Mauritius itself, the ground had been prepared. Detainees at the central prison of Beau Bassin were removed to free up space for the refugees. . . . The first eighteen months of the refugees’ time in Mauritius were particularly harsh. They could not leave the camp and there was little by way of family life. Indeed, their detention, combined with the authorities’ insistence the refugees would never be allowed to enter Palestine, proved devastating for some. Although unrecorded on any official documents, a number of refugees died by suicide. In total, 128 refugees did not survive their time on Mauritius, and are buried at the St. Martin Jewish cemetery on the island.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Adolf Hitler, Holocaust, Mandate Palestine, United Kingdom, Winston Churchill

Hizballah Is Learning Israel’s Weak Spots

On Tuesday, a Hizballah drone attack injured three people in northern Israel. The next day, another attack, targeting an IDF base, injured eighteen people, six of them seriously, in Arab al-Amshe, also in the north. This second attack involved the simultaneous use of drones carrying explosives and guided antitank missiles. In both cases, the defensive systems that performed so successfully last weekend failed to stop the drones and missiles. Ron Ben-Yishai has a straightforward explanation as to why: the Lebanon-backed terrorist group is getting better at evading Israel defenses. He explains the three basis systems used to pilot these unmanned aircraft, and their practical effects:

These systems allow drones to act similarly to fighter jets, using “dead zones”—areas not visible to radar or other optical detection—to approach targets. They fly low initially, then ascend just before crashing and detonating on the target. The terrain of southern Lebanon is particularly conducive to such attacks.

But this requires skills that the terror group has honed over months of fighting against Israel. The latest attacks involved a large drone capable of carrying over 50 kg (110 lbs.) of explosives. The terrorists have likely analyzed Israel’s alert and interception systems, recognizing that shooting down their drones requires early detection to allow sufficient time for launching interceptors.

The IDF tries to detect any incoming drones on its radar, as it had done prior to the war. Despite Hizballah’s learning curve, the IDF’s technological edge offers an advantage. However, the military must recognize that any measure it takes is quickly observed and analyzed, and even the most effective defenses can be incomplete. The terrain near the Lebanon-Israel border continues to pose a challenge, necessitating technological solutions and significant financial investment.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Hizballah, Iron Dome, Israeli Security