Secret MI5 files reveal Zionist plot to kill Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill was targetted for assassination by the Lehi (Photo: US Library of Congress)
Zionist group the Stern Gang plotted to assassinate Prime Minister Winston Churchill, newly released MI5 documents have revealed.
One of the group's leaders, Eliyahu Bet-Zuri, planned to send agents to London on a special mission to kill Churchill and other high-ranking members of government.
According to documents made public this week by the National Archives, the group known in Hebrew as "Lehi", also intended to assassinate the Labour Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin and other British ministers after the Second World War.
The Lehi were one of the organisations fighting against the British to establish a Jewish state in Mandate Palestine.
Lehi leader Avraham Stern
In February 1946, a British security official in Mandate Palestine sent a secret telegram to London warning of a plot to kill “members of His Majesty's Government - especially Mr Bevin”.
Bet-Zuri was hanged in 1945 for his role in the killing of Lord Moyne in Cairo, one of the UK's top government representatives in the Middle East. Lord Moyne was a close friend of Churchill.
Before Israel was declared a state there were three main Zionist militias or armed groups representing different political views. The most moderate of these was the centre-left socialist Haganah which sometimes co-operated and even shared intelligence with the British Mandate authorities.
The Irgun, led by future Prime Minister Menachem Begin was more right wing and anti-British, while the Lehi or Stern Gang was considered by many to be a fanatical group with an almost cult-like obsession of its leader, Avraham Stern.
The MI5 files also revealed that British intelligence officers conducted a secret operation to infiltrate and control hundreds of Nazi sympathisers in the UK during the war.