JERUSALEM (Jul. 20)
British military and police authorities in Palestine are wondering whether the Arab guerrilla “army” of terrorists has been equipped with tanks. Some such machines are being used in the destruction of long sections of “Tegart’s Wall,” the elaborate barbed-wire barricade under construction along fifty miles of Palestine’s northern and eastern frontiers.
The mark of broad caterpillar treads which have crushed the wire to the ground has been frequently found in the wake of the destructive raids which in the past fortnight have been tearing down the fence almost as fast as it is built. Apparently large farm tractors are used, but where these ponderous machines come from and how they are concealed have not yet been discovered, for the tracks are lost on the stony ground. It is presumed that they are kept on the Syrian side of the frontier.
The attacks on the incomplete fence, which began almost simultaneously with the departure from Palestine of its creator, Sir Charles Tegart, England’s premier terrorist fighter, have so annoyed the Government that it has forbidden the publication in Palestine of any reference to the progress in construction or destruction, a ban which together with prohibition of any publication concerning police or military action in the Acre and Safad sub-districts might, it is pointed out, be used to bar from Palestine the entire press of England and foreign countries.
The authorities are still convinced, however, that once the fence is completed, and the many elaborate devices for its protection are in operation, it will be practically impenetrable.
The tactics of the attackers have been for several bands to create diversions by shooting forays against police stations and encampments of the Jewish workers who are building the fence. While hundreds of Arabs recruited from nearby villages, aided by the tractors attack the wire with special cutting tools which recently arrived in Palestine in large numbers from some mysterious source abroad.
After such raids, police have found a large proportion of the Arabs in northern villages with the scratches of barbed wire on their hands. One of the methods of attempting to discourage the raids has been to assess the cost of the damage in the form of collective fines upon the villages whose inhabitants bear this stigma of guilt.
When the fence is completed, it will be guarded in many ways against tampering. In the first place, it will be strongly electrified. The current will not only in itself be a protection; it will also convey a signal to the police of any attempt at sabotage. The instant a wire is cut, the fact will be recorded by instruments at the police stations at either side of the point. These instruments, constructed on the same principle as those used in locating breaks in telephone wires and submarine cables, will tell exactly where the break has occurred. Instantly powerful searchlights will be directed at the spot, machine guns will be turned loose, and patrols in fast armored cars will be dispatched.
One of the reasons that it has been comparatively easy to sabotage the fence up to now is that there are few police stations along its length and patrols must cover long distances between posts, with no way of summoning reinforcements quickly. The terrorists have been careful before each raid to barricade or tear up the road, halting approaching police cars and engaging them in a fight while their comrades proceeded with the work of destruction.