Eliyahu Bet-Zuri (Hebrew: 10 February אליהו בית צורי, 1922– 22 March 1945) was a member of Lehi, who was executed in Egypt for his part in the assassination of Lord Moyne, the British Minister Resident in the Middle East.
Bet-Zuri was born in Tel Aviv to a Mizrahi-Jewish family of Galilean descent. His father was the Postmaster of Tiberias, a predominantly Jewish city with a significant Arab population, and was fluent in Arabic besides Hebrew. As a child, he served as a runner for a Haganah detachment, carrying ammunition, messages, and rations between Haganah posts. Bet Zuri attended the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He also joined the Irgun, but later left that movement to join the Lehi.
In 1944, Bet Zuri suggested assassinating British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and other highly placed British political personalities, according to secret files not publicly released by MI5 until April 2011.
Bet-Zuri pressed his commanders to be sent on a planned mission to assassinate Lord Moyne in Cairo. Although he lacked operational experience, it was judged that his dedication and determination would compensate for it. He was sent to Cairo along with Eliyahu Hakim to carry out the assassination.
On 6 November 1944, Bet Zuri and Hakim carried out their plan. While Hakim fatally shot Moyne, Bet-Zuri shot and killed his army driver, Lance Corporal A.T. Fuller. They were caught trying to escape on bicycles and put on trial before a military court. At the trial, Bet-Zuri gave a decidedly nationalist speech, inspired by the Canaanite movement in Palestine:
"We do not recognize England's right to give us Palestine or take it away from us. Let me make clear to the court: My ideas are not Zionist ideas. We don't fight to uphold the Balfour Declaration. We don't fight for the sake of the National Home. We fight for our freedom. In our country a foreign power rules." and "Millions sank in the sea of blood and tears, but the British skipper did not lift them to the ship. And if a few of the survivors held on to the bow of the ship, he, the British skipper, pushed them back into the sea. And we in our homeland had no choice but to surrender or fight. We decided to fight.
He and Hakim were both sentenced to death. They were hanged in Cairo on 22 March 1945, singing Hatikvah, the Israeli anthem, from the gallows.
Twenty-seven years later, Yitzhak Shamir, who had as their Lehi commander despatched them on their mission, lobbied Yitzhak Rabin's Labour Government to obtain their bodies as part of an exchange of prisoners between Egypt and Israel after the Yom Kippur war. On 25 June 1975, Egypt duly gave their remains to Israel in exchange for 20-25 Arab prisoners of war held in Israel. They were interred on Mount Herzl with full military honors. The Ministry of Education supplied all Israeli schools with brochures explaining their acts and its motives.
- Gerold Frank, The Deed, Page 17
- Hoffman, Bruce: Anonymous Soldiers (2015)
- Gardham, Duncan. "MI5 files: Zionist terrorist plotted to kill Winston Churchill". Telegraph. Retrieved 2013-06-19.
- "Zionist Bet-Zuri proposed killing Churchill: MI5 records reveal 1944 plot by Stern Group | Mail Online". Dailymail.co.uk. 2011-04-04. Retrieved 2013-06-19.
- Published on 03/04/2011 16:58. "Jewish extremist hatched plan to assassinate Churchill - News - Scotsman.com". News.scotsman.com. Retrieved 2013-06-19.
- Bell, Bowyer J.: Terror out of Zion (1976)
- Diamond, James (1986). Homeland or Holy Land?: The "Canaanite" Critique of Israel. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. pp. 150n77.
- Frank, Gerold (1963). The Deed. New York: Simon & Schuster. p. 262.
- The Deed by Gerold Frank p. 262
- Chemi Shalev 'Yitzhak Shamir looked at me and saw the ghost of his favorite assassin,', at Haaretz 2 July 2012.
- David Hirst, The gun and the olive branch: the roots of violence in the Middle East,Futura Publications Ltd., 1978 p.155.
- Edgar O'Ballance, Language of violence: the blood politics of terrorism, Presidio Press, 1979 p.22
- Criminologica Foundation, Abstracts on criminology and penology, Kluwer B. V., 1977, Vol,17, p.407.
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