The British mandate in Palestine had only a year left to run in May 1947 when, three weeks after a mass breakout of Jewish prisoners from Acre Prison, three Jewish men were caught just outside the prison carrying weapons – a capital offence.

The men, Avshalom Haviv, Yaakov Weiss and Meir Nakar, were tried by a British military court but refused to take any part in the proceedings, choosing to exploit the courtroom in order to make political statements denying the legitimacy of the British presence in Palestine. On June 16th, after a three-week trial, sentence of death by hanging was passed on all three men.

A month later the governor of the British military forces in Palestine confirmed the death sentence. The leading terrorist unit, Irgun, forthwith seized two British army sergeants as they were leaving a caf? in Netanya and took them to a hiding place. The message was that if the three terrorists were hanged, the British hostages would also die.

Undeterred, the British Government refused to act, and on Tuesday, July 29th, 1947, the three terrorists were hanged in Acre Prison. The following day the two sergeants were found hanged in a wood. Within the year Britain left Palestine and the modern state of Israel was created on May 14th, 1948.