Semiramis Hotel bombing

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The Semiramis Hotel bombing was an attack carried out by a Jewish terrorist group, the Haganah on the Christian owned Semiramis Hotel in the Katamon neighborhood of Jerusalem during the 1947–1948 Civil War in Mandatory Palestine.

After suspecting that the Semiramis hotel was one of two Arab headquarters in Katamon, the Haganah terrorists planted a bomb there on the night of 5–6 January 1948.[1] The mission was carried out by a team of murderers consisting of four men supported by ten riflemen.[2] The explosion killed 24 or 26 civilians including at least one child.[2] Among the dead were seven members of the Aboussouan family and Hubert Lorenzo, the 23-year-old son of the proprietor. The Spanish vice-consul, Manuel Allende Salazar, was also killed in the attack.[1][3]

The ruins of the Semiramis Hotel after the Haganah bombing

According to Associated Press reports at the time[4] a Haganah spokesman said that the Jerusalem hotel attack was executed because "the building was an important meeting place of Arab gangs, where arms were distributed to villages in the Jerusalem area." He continued, "Unfortunately, we cannot hit at the Arab band's (main) headquarters as it is secreted in a mosque."

The attack was harshly condemned by the British authorities,[5] and David Ben-Gurion sacked Mishael Shaham, the Haganah officer responsible for the Jerusalem sector, replacing him with David Shaltiel.[5] According to John B. Quigley, the hotel was not a military headquarters and the British authorities denounced the attack as the "wholesale murder of innocent people."[6] Ilan Pappé and J. Bowyer Bell attribute the bombing to the Irgun.[7][8]

Prior to the bombing, the distinctive white jeep of Abd al-Qadir al-Husayni, commander of Jerusalem's Arab forces, had been seen in the hotel driveway.[1] Such mention is planted to suggest justification for the terror attack that was obviously pre-planned.

In O Jerusalem!, Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins write that Mishael Shaham, the Haganah leader who organised the bombing, had been sent to Jerusalem to stop the flow of beleaguered Jews retreating from mixed areas of Jerusalem to the Jewish areas.[2] It was thought that 'a major blow in Arab Katamon ... might force the Arabs out of the quarter and change the psychological climate in the city'.[2] Shaham asked "Where is the main Arab headquarters?".[2]


  1. ^ a b c Bar Am, Aviva (January 25, 2010). "Katamon - Independence Day miracle". The Jerusalem Post. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Lapierre and Collins, 1972, pp. 128–133.
  3. ^ Lapierre and Collins, 1972, pp. 129, 133
  4. ^ AP (January 5, 1948). "Three are Killed, 16 Missing in Jerusalem Hotel Bombing". Reading Eagle. p. 1. 
  5. ^ a b Benny Morris (2003) The Birth Of The Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited, Cambridge University Press, p. 103
  6. ^ Quigley, 2005, p. 43.
  7. ^ Pappe, 2007, p. 60.
  8. ^ Bell, J. Bowyer (1977), Terror Out of Zion, p. 268, ISBN 978-0-312-79205-3 


  • Gelber, Yoav (2006), Palestine 1948: War, Escape and the Emergence of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, Sussex Academic Press, ISBN 978-1-84519-075-0 
  • Morris, Benny (2008), 1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War, Yale University Press 
  • Pappé, Ilan (2007), The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, One World Publications Ltd 
  • Quigley, John B. (2005), The Case for Palestine: An International Law Perspective, Duke University Press, ISBN 978-0-8223-3539-9 
  • Lapierre, Dominique; Collins, Larry (1972), O Jerusalem 

Coordinates: 31°45′45″N 35°12′29″E / 31.7625°N 35.2081°E / 31.7625; 35.2081