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held for a lengthy period. In July and August of 1946, there were periodic news items publishing their imminent release, yet their release was delayed, and only four and half months later were the camps gates opened for them. They were the last to be released as the Rafah detainees had been released previously.
The evacuation of the National Institutions Building by the British military and police took place on Wednesday, July 10, around 5:30 PM. On this date, the last soldier exited the building, took with him the barbed wire that blocked the entrance, loaded it on a light armored vehicle that awaited him – and departed. Over the following hours, the British dismantled their positions from the roof of the building and above the nearby roofs and removed the barricades from the streets surrounding the building.
The first news on the building's "liberation" came via the officer of the district, Dr. Avraham Bergman. The Agency's people were requested to arrive at the building at five o'clock in order to receive the keys to it. Shlomo Eisenberg, the General Secretary of the Jewish Agency, refused to receive the keys, and the British delivered them to the Jewish guard who returned to his shift after the evacuation.
It turned out that in the hours before the return of the building to its owners, a senior British delegation, comprising three members, conducted a tour of all the rooms and halls, determining that certain damages had been caused to them and estimated them at 147 PP (Palestinian Pounds) and an additional 400 PM (Palestinian Mills). This was a ridiculous amount, particularly in light of the many damages that were discovered in the building following the British's departure. Indeed, the repairs on the building and its return to normal operations required thousands of pounds, but the British claimed that it was no concern of theirs.
Reporters were allowed to enter the building only in the evening, and they found ample evidence of the damages the searchers inflicted. For example, the signs of a "thorough search" were apparent in the room of the Chairman of the Executive, David Ben-Gurion. Among other things, a closet door had been wrenched out of place, and it was possible to see the attempt made to penetrate the safe by firing at it. A bible on his desk was completely covered in dust. In several halls, the coating on the walls had been removed, in order to discover if anything was hidden behind them. Several rooms had been sealed with tape that was glued to the doors, after the British damage assessment team had visited them.
According to the journalists' reports, the primary damage was to the Jewish Agency Wing. By comparison, the wings of the national funds – KKL-JNF and Keren Hayesod – as well as the offices of the Jewish National Council, showed no signs of hostile British activity. There were no signs of disorder in the Zionist Archive, and it turned out in retrospect that the British had returned the files and documents they took after they reviewed them. Even though the British attempted to clean the building, piles of tin cans and cigarette butts were discovered in several places.

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