Escape from Cyprus: The story of ‘Hatikva'

As the passengers sang loudly, the Palestinian sawed the lock from a hatch cover in the floor of their cage.

By MURRAY GREENFIELD
September 5, 2017 11:19
Hatikvah crew members in Cyprus (from left) Hugh McDonald, Sam Gordon, Harold Katz, Joe Gilden and M

Hatikvah crew members in Cyprus (from left) Hugh McDonald, Sam Gordon, Harold Katz, Joe Gilden and Murray Greenfield.. (photo credit: MURRAY GREENFIELD)

 
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Some 70 years ago, I was among a group of men who who sailed on a ship named Hatikva (The Hope) to British Mandatory Palestine during what was called Aliya Bet, when we were caught by the British and incarcerated in Cyprus. When another ship carrying immigrants, mostly Holocaust survivors, the Exodus, was infamously captured by the Royal Navy and its passengers deported back to Europe, the Hagana decided to act.

First, it decided to dig an escape tunnel from the camp in which we were incarcerated in Cyprus. Three Americans took part in this project. Working with two refugees and a Jewish commander from Palestine, they started the excavation in the floor of a large tent at the edge of the camp. Their goal was a clump of trees some 150 feet away, beyond the fence.

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