Shubaki family assassination

The Shubaki family assassination on 19 November 1947 was the assassination by the Lehi, a Zionist paramilitary and terrorist organization, of five members of the Shubaki family in Mandatory Palestine, as a reaction to allegations that a member of the family had acted as an informant for the British police.[1]

Shubaki family assassination
Part of the Civil war in Mandatory Palestine
LocationArab al-Shubaki, Palestine
Date19 November 1947
4:30 am
TargetShubaki family
Attack type
WeaponSubmachine gun
Deaths5 civilians
PerpetratorsIsrael Lehi
No. of participants
10 militants

It was the first violence involving Palestinian Arabs for three months (the violence during the Jewish insurgency in Mandatory Palestine had primarily been between Jewish and British forces); two days after the attacks the New York Herald Tribune reported that both sides feared that the killings might spark retaliation by Arabs against Jews.[2]

Buildup to the assassinationEdit

"Lehi Children" incident and the Lehi insurgency against the BritishEdit

On 11 November 1947, in the final stages of the Jewish insurgency in Mandatory Palestine, British intelligence were made aware that the Lehi was holding a firearms course for young members in Ra'anana, and surrounded the building. The British respondents shot dead five members of Lehi, with no British deaths or injuries,[1] in what is known as the Lehi Children [he] Affair. According to eyewitness testimonies and the Lehi account, four unarmed teenage members aged 15-18 were fatally shot along with their 19-year-old instructor as they tried to run away from the house, and two teenagers aged 16-17 years were left severely wounded. This is in contrast to the account given by the British police, which maintained that the victims were shot because they were armed and the officers under "immediate danger." Police files that were released to the public later in 2021 indicated that the order to raid the house had been approved directly from the British government in London. While the police records do state that the British were under danger, it does not mention at what moment the officers started shooting. It also confirms that the victims were already running out the building before they were killed.[3][4][5]

Lehi retaliated with terrorist attacks against the British:[6]

  • On 12 November 1947, Lehi members killed one British soldier and wounded three near Haifa
  • On 13 November 1947, Lehi members attacked patrons at the Ritz coffee shop in Jerusalem, injuring 28 people
  • On 15 November 1947, Lehi members killed two British policemen in Jerusalem

Planning of the assassinationEdit

Lehi leader Nathan Yellin-Mor led an investigation into how the British knew about the meeting on 11 November. The Palestinian Arab Shubaki family lived nearby the meeting place, and Lehi concluded that they must have acted as informants. Lehi decided to kill members of the family in order to punish the family and to warn Arabs throughout Palestine not to help the British.[6]

The assassinationEdit

At 4:30am on 19 November 1947, ten Lehi members armed with submachine guns entered the village of Arab al-Shubaki (Arabic: عرب الشباكي), situated between the Jewish towns of Herzeliya and Ra'anana (with whom they are thought to have had good relations).[6]

The Lehi militants were dressed as police, and told the mukhtar (village head) to gather all the men in the village and select five of them. They took the unarmed men to a nearby field and executed them.[6]

The victims were:[6]

  • Ahmed Salameh Shubaki (50 years old)
  • Wadia Shubaki (25 years old)
  • Sammy Shubaki (23 years old)
  • Sami Shubaki (23 years old) (cousin)
  • Sabar Ahmed Shubaki (27 years old, a cousin))[7]


On 21 November, the Lehi issued a statement in which they accepted responsibility for the attack. The statement, which was written "for our Arab brothers", stressed that the shootings were not done because the victims were Arab or Muslim but because they suspected the Shubaki family to have assisted the British police. The Lehi published names of Arabs and Jews who they believed were helping the British administration, warning the listed individuals to cease all support for the British lest they become the next targets.[6]

Arab militants retaliated approximately ten days later with the Fajja bus attacks;[8][9] immediately after the bus attacks a flyer was posted on walls in Jaffa explaining that the bus attacks were revenge for the Shubaki assassinations.[10]


  1. ^ a b Ben-Yehuda, N. (2012). Political Assassinations by Jews: A Rhetorical Device for Justice. SUNY series in Deviance and Social Control. State University of New York Press. p. 250. ISBN 978-0-7914-9637-4. Retrieved 2022-04-17.
  2. ^ Terrorist Jews Execute 4 in Arab Family, NY Herald Tribune, Nov. 21, 1947: "The shootings were the first since August involving Arabs and although there were no signs of it tonight people on both sides feared they might bring an attack by Arabs on Jews somewhere in the country to avenge the Arab deaths."
  3. ^ "Police covered up deaths in Mandatory Palestine, new documents show". The Jerusalem Post | Retrieved 2022-11-26.
  4. ^ Retrieved 2022-11-26. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ Eichner, Itamar (2021-04-16). "Revealed: How UK covered up killings of Jews in pre-state Palestine". Ynetnews. Retrieved 2022-11-26.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Ben-Yehuda, N. (2012). Political Assassinations by Jews: A Rhetorical Device for Justice. SUNY series in Deviance and Social Control. State University of New York Press. p. 251. ISBN 978-0-7914-9637-4. Retrieved 2022-04-17.
  7. ^ Nachman Ben-Yehuda, Political Assassinations by Jews: A Rhetorical Device for Justice, State University of New York Press, 2012 ISBN 978-0-791-49637-4 pp.249-250.
  8. ^ Morris, R.F.T.I.B.; Morris, B.; Clancy-Smith, J.A.; Benny, M.; Gershoni, I.; Owen, R.; Tripp, C.; Sayigh, Y.; Tucker, J.E. (2004). The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited. Cambridge Middle East Studies. Cambridge University Press. p. 139. ISBN 978-0-521-00967-6. Traditionally, Zionist historiography has cited these attacks as the first acts of Palestinian violence against the partition resolution. But it is probable that the attacks were not directly linked to the resolution – and were a product either of a desire to rob Jews... or of a retaliatory cycle that had begun with a British raid on a LHI training exercise (after an Arab had informed the British about the exercise), that resulted in several Jewish dead... The LHI retaliated by executing five members of the beduin Shubaki clan near Herzliya...; and the Arabs retaliated by attacking the buses on 30 Nov....
  9. ^ Radai, Itamar (2015). Palestinians in Jerusalem and Jaffa, 1948: A Tale of Two Cities. Routledge Studies on the Arab-Israeli Conflict. Taylor & Francis. p. 237. ISBN 978-1-317-36805-2. Retrieved 2022-04-17. In November they again strove to cool tempers, following an attack on a Jewish bus on its way to Holon, in retaliation against the killing of five young men of the Shubaki family by LEHI gunmen (who were in turn taking revenge because one of the members of the family had informed to the British about LEHI activities).
  10. ^ Morris, B. (2009). 1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War. Yale University Press. p. 76. ISBN 978-0-300-15112-1. Retrieved 2022-04-17. …the majority view in the HIS—supported by an anonymous Arab flyer posted almost immediately on walls in Jaffa—was that the attackers were driven primarily by a desire to avenge an LHI raid ten days before on a house near Raganana belonging to the Abu Kishk bedouin tribe.