- Atlit detainee camp
The Atlit detainee camp was a camp for Jewish illegal immigrants seeking refuge in
Palestineduring the period of the British Mandate for Palestine. Atlitis located on the Mediterranean coast of Israel, 20 km south of Haifa. The camp, which operated in the 1930s and 40s, was a detention center run like a concentration camp, surrounded by barbed wire and watchtowers. [ [http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Immigration/atlit.html Atlit “Illegal Immigration Camp” ] ] Many of the detainees were Jews who had escaped NaziEurope. The British authorities, succumbing to Arab demands to limit Jewish immigration, refused to allow these Jews to enter the country.
In November 1940, the British authorities decided to send 5000 "illegals" to be detained in
Mauritius. One of these deporting ships was the Patria. To stop the deportation, the Haganah, the Jewish underground militia in Palestine, exploded a bomb in the ship's hold on November 25. The size of the explosive charge had been seriously miscalculated, and the ship sank quickly. On board were 1800 refugees; 216 drowned in the disaster. The survivors from the "Patria" were detained in Atlit and not deported to Mauritius. They were released after a few months.
Darien II" arrived with 800 refugees in March 1941. They were detained at the Atlit camp until September 1942, when the camp was shut down.
The Atlit camp was reopened in 1945 following
World War II, as more and more "illegals" arrived in Palestine. Most of them were Holocaust survivors from DP camps in Europe who made the journey through the Berihahand Ha'apala ("Aliya Beth") clandestine immigration network. On October 10, 1945, the Palmach(special forces unit of the Haganah) broke into the camp and released 200 detainees, who escaped. Yitzhak Rabin, then a young officer, planned this raid and Nachum Sarigcommanded it.
Following this event, the British deported illegals to be interned in
Cyprus internment camps. These camps operated from 1946 through the establishment of the State of Israel.
AtlitDetainee Camp is today a museum dedicated to the pre-State illegal immigration.
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