Son of founder, former Lehi member both reject claim group wanted to assassinate Churchill
MI5 documents claiming the Lehi planned to assassinate former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill are a product of “British paranoia”, the son of the group’s founder told Ynet on Monday. Britain’s Security Service uncovers files suggesting Eliyahu Bet-Zuri, who was hanged for murdering Lord Moyne, plotted to kill British prime minister, Foreign Secretary Bevin in 1944 Geula Cohen, a former MK and member of the famed underground group, also told Ynet she had never heard of such a scheme. “We had only begun working abroad in those days,” she said, referring to the mid-40s.
“I know because I heard from Yitzhak Shamir himself that there were two people being targeted at that time – the British high commissioner to the Middle East, who was assassinated, and Commissioner Harold McMichael, who we missed,” Cohen recounted.
“Aside from these two, I can’t recall any other targets in those days. I really can’t remember any intention of harming Churchill.”
Yair Stern, Chairman of the Lehi Veterans Association and the son of Avraham (Yair) Stern, founder and commander of the group, told Ynet that no information – documented or verbal – exists corroborating the claims.
“It’s paranoia. Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin seems like a preferable target, because he was said to have been anti-Semitic and one of the deciders of British policy that prevented concentration camp survivors from immigrating to Israel,” Stern explained.
“But I have never even heard of an intention to kill him, nor have I ever found documentation or testimony on the matter in the Lehi files.”
Stern chalked the claims up to panic. “Apparently there was no plan, maybe someone just threw out a comment,” he said, but added that the Lehi did indeed aim to assassinate certain British officials, generally police and military officers.