The Assassination of Folke Bernadotte

You might not have heard of the name Folke Bernadotte, but this man had a lot to do with the Israeli-Arab conflict and the establishment of the State of Israel.

Folke Bernadotte was a Swedish diplomat and was even a member of the Royal Swedish family who played a part in Israeli history. As the head of the Swedish Red Cross, Bernadotte was in charge of releasing many of the captives that were held by the Nazis, and he also was responsible for the release of 400 Jewish prisoners from the Theresienstadt Ghetto. After the fact, it turned out he wasn't too keen on releasing Jewish prisoners, but that is a different story.

Bernadotte was appointed by the UN to negotiate between the Israeli and Palestinian sides, after the War of Independence in 1948. The suggestion he offered was clearly more pro the Arab sides and would mean Israel would lose the territories it conquered during the war and would receive even less than what was offered in the UN Partition Plan for Palestine. Aside from Jordan, all of the Arab countries declined the suggestion, and the plan was declined by Israel as well.


On September 17th, 1948, Bernadotte was driven in a convoy made of three vehicles. On the corners of what are now Palmah and HaGedud HaIvri streets in Jerusalem, the convoy was blocked by a jeep. Three Lehi soldiers jumped out of the jeep, headed over to Bernadotte's car, and blasted it with an automatic machine gun. A French Colonel that was in the car was killed on the spot, and Bernadotte died from his wounds later in the hospital.


The Lehi soldiers that assassinated Bernadotte were not caught, and only decades later did the identity of the crew members, and the organization that sent them became known.