La Spezia, Italy (Apr. 26)
The 1,014 Jewish refugees who have been detained aboard the Fede for the past three weeks announced today that they are sailing for Palestine on Sunday, with or without Palestine immigration visas.
Whether they sail legally or illegally, the refugee group intends to give the British and the world generally 24-hours notice of their sailing time, and their intention is to leave this harbor in broad daylight. “We don’t know who can stop us without shooting us,” Moshe Feldman, the 24-year-old leader of the desperate group told a Jewish Telegraphic Agency correspondent.
Announcement of the position of the British Colonial Office is expected tomorrow. The High Commissioner for Palestine, Sir Alan G. Cunningham, has already offered entry permits to 679 of the group, but the refugees are adamant against accepting any less than permits for the 1,014 aboard the jam-packed craft.
Their leaders are also unwilling to await the report of the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry on Palestine, now expected to be released next week and which reputedly will recommend the immediate entry of 100,000 Jews into Palestine.
“We have waited patiently for more than three weeks on the pier under terribly difficult conditions,” leaders stated yesterday in a telegram sent to Prof. Harold Laski, chairman of the British Labor Party executive, who a fortnight ago spoke to the refugees here and who later intervened on their behalf with Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin. “You personally had an opportunity,” the telegram to London continued, “to learn that it is not feasible to divide our group after we suffered equally during our hunger strike and the cruel period of waiting which followed.”
PLAN TO SAIL INTO TEL AVIV OR JAFFA HARBOR IN BROAD DAYLIGHT
The would-be immigrants said that they intend sailing into Tel Aviv or Jaffa harbor in broad daylight. “If this is a secret voyage,” one of their leaders said, “we will make it the most open ‘secret’ the world has ever known.”
Both the Feds and the newly arrived Elishu Goloub, another refugee vessel, after minor alterations have been declared seaworthy by the Italian Government. The various machine parts removed from the Fede by the Italian authorities, at the instigation of the British, have now been replaced by new parts. Unless the two ships are blockaded by the British or the Italian army, nothing apparently can prevent their sailing.
The passengers on the Fede have declared they would sink the vessel, and drown with it, or blow it up at sea, rather than be frustrated in their determination to get under way for Palestine. If there is no blockade or firing at La Spezia, the group is confident they cannot be stopped on the high seas.