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supporters of the Mussolini Regime that had been defeated in the war, who were attempting to flee Italy. He stopped it and also reported it to the British Military Police, since Italy had been under an Anglo-American occupation at the time. The British immediately understood that these were "illegal immigrants" and arrested them. They had agreed to allow them to board the "Fedeh" (which was later name "Dov Hoz"), which was anchored at a distant dock in La Spezia and blocked its path so that it could not escape.
The Olim were joined by Yehuda Arazi, the Chief of Aliyah Bet in Italy, one of the intelligence and strategy specialists of the "Mossad LeAliyah Bet" and the "Haganah." He took upon himself command of the illegal immigrants and declared an indefinite hunger strike, until the immigrants were permitted to make Aliya to the Land of Israel. He presented himself to the Italians and the British as a Holocaust survivor by the name of Dr. Yossef La-Paz, of the City of Danzig.
The hunger strike was extensively covered by the media means of the day (newspapers and radio) and enjoyed tremendous international interest. The fact that men, women – including pregnant women – the elderly and even children were hunger striking drew dozens of reporters to the Port of La Spezia.
In the Land of Israel, the destination of the immigrants׳ ship that was being held in Italy, there was understandable interest, with extensive coverage of every step taken by the immigrants and every move made by Yehuda Arazi. In order to assist the immigrants in their strike, an unusual decision was made in Jerusalem: 13 of the leaders of the Jewish Yishuv in the Land of Israel would join the immigrants in a simultaneous hunger strike. The location that was set to host them and their strike was the National Institutions Building in Jerusalem.
At the last moment, on the eve of the fast, Golda Meyerson (Meir, later Prime Minister of Israel), one the leaders of the Jewish Agency, attempted to convince the British to permit the La Spezia immigrants to enter the Land of Israel, thus preventing the demonstrative move by the Yishuv׳s leaders. She appeared in the office of the Chief Secretary of the Palestine Government, and
implored him to allow the Aliya of the La Spezia immigrants. The senior British official, who was second only to the High Commissioner in the Mandatory Government, denied her request with these blunt words: "Mrs. Meyerson. Do you think, even for one moment, that His Majesty׳s Government will change its policy just because you won׳t eat?" Golda’s reply was sarcastic: "No. I have no such illusions. If the deaths of six million Jews in the Holocaust did not change the government׳s policy, I don׳t assume that the fact that I won׳t eat will bring this about. But at least this will be a sign of solidarity with the hunger striking Jews in La Spezia."
The press reports on said meeting noted that Golda did not arrive on her own, but was accompanied by the Mayor of Tel Aviv Israel Rokach and the President of the Jewish National Council Yitzhak Ben-Zvi. According to these reports, the Chief Secretary had asked the delegation not to take so drastic a step as an indefinite fast.

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