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Friday, 11 September 2015

Seventy-five years ago today, Italian warplanes bombed residential Tel Aviv, causing 137 deaths

Italian warplanes bombed residential Tel Aviv on this date in 1940, causing 137 deaths. The fascists of Italy had been periodically bombing the British Mandate since June, focusing on Tel Aviv’s port and Haifa’s oil terminal and refinery. At this juncture of World War II, Britain stood alone against Nazi Germany and its allies, and Italy had concentrated its forces on Egypt and North Africa. Chaim Weizmann, David Ben Gurion, and other Zionist leaders had allied the yishuv (the Jewish sector of Palestine) to the Allied cause despite Great Britain’s 1939 White Paper, which shut down Jewish immigration into Palestine.

“Tel Aviv was bombed in full daylight. I was playing with friends near home when we suddenly heard loud explosions. Before we could grasp what was happening, the Italian planes were on their way back to base. The entire bombardment had lasted only a few seconds, catching us unaware and leaving us no time to get to the shelter in the center of the neighborhood.” —Yehuda Lapidot

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