Israeli guerrillas admit they killed U.N. envoy in '48New York Times News Service
JERUSALEM -- Two former guerrillas of an underground Jewish band once led by Yitzhak Shamir have said they carried out the assassination of a United Nations' peace envoy 40 years ago.
It has been widely speculated that the band, know as the Stern Gang, assassinated envoy Count Folke Bernadotte, but Friday was the first public acknowledgment by the guerrillas.
The Stern Gang was the most radical of the underground organizations struggling to establish the State of Israel. Count Bernadotte, a Swedish diplomat, had been sent by the U.N. Security Council in May 1948 to try to establish a truce between the Israeli soldiers and Arab armies.
Yehoshua Zeitler, who said he directed the assassination, told Israel radio that he had decided to speak out because of what he said was his fear that the United Nations would again try to force Israel into concessions that would endanger its existence.
Meshulam Markover said he led the four-man assassination squad that cut off Bernadotte's car with a jeep on a Jerusalem street Sept. 17, 1948.
Three guerrillas jumped out, he said, and one, Yehoshua Cohen, who died two years ago, fired the shots that killed Bernadotte and his French aide-de-camp.
A spokesman for Shamir, now Israel's prime minister, said that Shamir had no role in the killing because the organization had officially disbanded six months before.
Shamir assumed leadership of the group after its first leader, Azram Stern, was shot to death while in the custody of the British police.
At the time, Shamir praised the tactics, saying, "First and foremost, terrorism is for us a part of the political battle being conducted under the present circumstances, and it has a great part to play in our war against the occupier."
Although the Stern Gang was outlawed by the Israeli government after the
assassination of Bernadotte, its members have since been honored, along with
the other groups that took part in the fight for the establishment of the
State of Israel.