On 9 July 1954 (some sources say 2 July), Egyptian Jews recruited by the Israeli agent Avraham Seidenwerg were activated by a message broadcast over the Kol Israel radio programme, "For the Housewife" -- the signal was a recipe for English cake. They first blew up some post offices and a few days later, the American libraries in Cairo and Alexandria. These operations were to "make it clear to the whole world that Egypt's new rulers were nothing but a group of foolhardy extremists, unreliable and unworthy of taking charge of an asset as important as the Suez Canal -- Israel was worried about Egyptian-UK negotiations which were expected to lead to the withdrawal of all British troops from their base along the Suex Canal. Furthermore, it was to be demonstrated that their grasp on power was uncertain, that they faced powerful internal opposition, and, consequently, they were unworthy of being counted upon as a dependable ally.
Robert Dassa was one of the first of the terrorists to be caught. Philip Nathanson was caught soon after when, on the way to blow up a cinema in Alexandria, the bomb he was carrying in his pocket ignited and then exploded.
As Nathanson lay on the ground, he saw startled and frightened faces looking down at him. While somebody shouted "Take care! He may have another bomb!" Nathanson heard a police sergeant say "Don't worry, don't worry. We were waiting for them. These are the people who set fire to the American library." He was taken by ambulance to a hospital. After being lightly treated, he was interrogated by members of Egypt's military intelligence, the Muhabarrat. The others were caught soon after - Shmuel Azar and Marcelle Ninio. None of them had been prepared by their Israeli handlers for this eventuality.
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