Police dig up Hagana arms cache

By ILANA STRAUSS AND MARGARET STONER
June 16, 2009 22:22
2 minute read.

 
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During the War of Independence 64 years ago, Hagana member Berl Keren hid weapons on his kibbutz, Ein Hashofet, south of Haifa. He took a vow of silence not to reveal the location of the arms, and they remained beneath the ground. Until today. Keren, now 96, decided to finally reveal his secret, and on Tuesday, police carefully began to dig up the weapons cache - which was buried next to the kibbutz's gym. Among the weapons recovered were several guns, including 11 Stens, seven Mousers, a Schmeiser and two Zikukims, as well as grenades and some bullets. Caution was a necessity because it was possible the grenades were still live. "We are being very careful," explained chief inspector Daron Malka. "Some of the weapons might explode at the touch." Keren was a former regional commander in the Hagana. When the British did not permit them to carry all their weapons, he and his men dug a hole throughout the night and placed the grenades, weapons and ammunition inside, covering up the cache in the morning. "I promised I wouldn't tell where they were, and I kept this promise," said Keren in an interview with Ma'ariv. "People knew there was a cache," explained Ishay Hubrman, a lifelong member of the kibbutz. "They [just] didn't know where it was." Originally, nine Hagana soldiers knew where the weapons were hidden. All have passed away, save Keren. The kibbutz urged Keren to reveal the location, as he was the only one left who knew. "Three months ago, we told him, why not open it. So he agreed," said Hubrman. "It was very hard for him to agree, because for him, it's [like] breaking [a] law." Finally, in March, Keren told his well-kept secret to a fellow kibbutz member and felt "very relieved" afterward. Finding the weapons was a challenge in itself. "It took us almost three months to find the exact point where to dig," recalled Hubrman. The building originally used to hide the arms had become a gym, but kibbutz members found the weapons were still there. The kibbutz was full of anticipation that day as members eagerly waited to see if the rumors were true. "We put a note on the board in the dining room," recalled Hubrman. "Half an hour later, all the kibbutz was here." Once the discovery was made, the police decided to remove the arms from the property. While some of the weapons will be destroyed, others will be displayed in a museum on the kibbutz.

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