LONDON (Dec. 11)
A general stoppage of work and business was held by Jews throughout Palestine today, it was learned here, as the Government moved to implement its policy of deporting illegal immigrants to an island. colony for duration of the war.
Fragmentary reports from Jerusalem indicated that the strike began in Haifa yesterday when some groups of the more than 2,000 refugees who arrived in Palestine in November and were interned at Athlit were moved to the port city in preparation for deportation.
The 2,000 are in addition to some 1,600 survivors of the S.S. Patria who were interned at Athlit when the ship was sunk by an explosion on Nov. 25 as it was preparing to sail for the colony. The British Government gave the Patria survivors special permission to remain in Palestine, but stressed that this did not set a precedent for other past or future illegal immigrants.
The Government’s decision was announced in Commons on Dec. 4 by Colonial Under secretary George H. Hall, who said the Patria survivors would be permitted to remain in Palestine as an “exceptional act of mercy” in view of their “harrassing experience,” but that “the position remains unchanged regarding all other illegal immigrants” who would “be sent overseas as soon as necessary shipping arrangements can be made.”
A similar general strike was held by Palestine Jews on Nov. 20 in protest against the preparations which the Palestine administration was then making to deport 1,771 refugees on the Patria.
Today, Hall informed Col. Josiah Wedgwood, Laborite M.P., that High Commissioner Sir Harold A. MacMichael had reported the Patria death toll as 55, leaving 198 unaccounted for, of whom the majority had probably escaped during rescue operations.
The ship will probably be raised from Haifa harbor and repaired, Hall stated. Preliminary salvage operations have been started. The survivors are maintained at the Palestine Government’s expense since work for them is not available, the Colonial Under-secretary said.