Undersea search for symbolic ‘Altalena’ begins this week

Menachem Begin Heritage Center says remains expected to be found within two weeks; Katz: "A Jew will never lift a hand against his brother."

July 11, 2011 13:24
1 minute read.
Menachem Begin

Begin 311. (photo credit: The Jerusalem Post archives)

An attempt to lift the remains of the Altalena from the Mediterranean Sea will begin this week, the Knesset House Committee was told on Monday.

The Altalena was a ship carrying Irgun weapons and fighters – many of whom were Holocaust survivors – to Israel in June 1948.

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Former prime minister Menachem Begin, then the Irgun’s commander, boarded the ship as it approached Israel. The Altalena was later fired upon by Yitzhak Rabin’s Palmah unit near Tel Aviv’s shore, and sunk on a command from David Ben-Gurion.

The ship is seen by many Israelis as a symbol of the dangers of violence between Jews in Israel.

A representative of the Menachem Begin Heritage Center said that the search for the ship would begin this week, and that remains are expected to be found within two weeks.

MK Ya’acov Katz (National Union), who attended the meeting, said that “lifting the ship and making it a memorial is important in order to perpetuate the national consensus that a Jew will never lift a hand against his brother.”

“There will never be a civil war!” Katz exclaimed, repeating a well-known Begin quote from after the Altalena affair.

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