Monday, August 19, 2002

Haganah arms cache discovered after 54 years.
Another article Haaretz didn’t think would interest its English speaking readers:
A 15-year-old boy dug a flowerbed in Kibbutz Sdot Yam – and discovered a Haganah arms cache (which was called a slik) from the end of the British mandate. He was planning to turn a desolate corner at the back of the house dedicated to Hannah Senesh (Jewish poet and fighter. She made her home in the fledgling Kibbutz Sdot Yam before returning to her native Hungary to help Jews escape the Nazis, who captured and killed her) into a flowering garden. He hadn’t dug very far when he hit metal.

A Police sapper brought up an elaborate cache made out of two barrels, professionally galvanized against rust, 3m down. It contained some handguns, some Sten machine guns; some German “MG 34” machine guns (state of the art at the time); and some Tommy guns. Most of the weapons were in good shape and serviceable. At the time, the “sliks” were necessary, because the British would not allow the Jews in Palestine to arm themselves, besides the very minimum provided to Jewish policemen and Jewish British army soldiers, but without weapons they couldn’t protect themselves effectively against the Arabs.

Someone remembered Yehuda Michaeli, who was the “sliker” (responsible for concealing weapons), who was rather sad to see his slik had been discovered. He was asked if he knew about it and he said angrily “Of course!” Later, he explained that there where a few “sliks” that he and his partner Adi Zilberg (who has since passed away) prepared in their metal workshop and concealed, but refused to say how many. There were no maps, and they were the only ones who knew were they were. This particular “slik” was buried right before the establishment of the State of Israel, as a reserve to be used in an emergency, during the War of Independence.

Michaeli told no one of where the “sliks” where, not his wife, nor his children, fighters in elite army units. When asked why he never breathed a word, for 54 years, he said, “I am a “sliker”, I was sworn to secrecy, how could I tell?”

I was very taken with Hannah Senesh's story when I was growing up, and I read her diaries, stories and poems over and over again. I still get a bit choked up thinking about her. You can read more about her here.


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