Jerusalem (Jun. 18)
The conflict between the Jews and British in Palestine took on the aspects of open warfare today as armed forces of both groups engaged in sporadic clashes in cities and colonies throughout the country. At least fifteen Jews and three Britons have been killed since Sunday night.
Both sides are issuing formal communiques. The police and army announcements are going out through regular channels while the resistance forces are utilizing underground radios.
Early today twelve Jews armed with tommy guns surrounded a British officers’ club on Hayarkon Street in Tel Aviv and kidnapped five officers. The kidnappers first cut telephone lines and suspended traffic in the area and then broke into the club. As they left they flung a grenade at an approaching military truck to prevent it from following them.
Immediately after the alarm was sounded strong troop and police detachments assisted by 20 tanks surrounded the area and began an exhaustive hunt for the Jews. It is believed that the officers will be held as hostages for Joseph Simkhon and Itzchak Azbel, who were sentenced to death last week for participating in an attack on a British military camp.
A curfew of indefinite duration, effective at 5 a.m. tomorrow morning, was clamped down on Tel Aviv to facilitate the hunt for the kidnapped men. A special meeting of the Tel Aviv municipal council appealed for the immediate release of the officers.
NINE JEWS KILLED IN ATTACK ON HAIFA RAILROAD YARDS
Nine Jews were killed, ten wounded and 15 arrested last night following a successful attack by Jewish underground units on the railway yards at Haifa Bay, during which the power house was wrecked, a locomotive destroyed, and machines and buildings blasted.
This morning the bombed area was a shambles. A cordon of troops kept all persons away from the yards as the damage was being surveyed. The 1,300 man normally employed there were sent home.
Rail service, which was completely disrupted following the blasting of rail and road bridges Sunday night, was resumed on a limited scale today. Repair crews were rushed this morning to a section of the Haifa-Lydda Line near Lydda airport where a land mine last night cut the rails.
The attack on the railroad yards was made by a group of young man and women, reported to be members of the Irgun Zvai Leumi, who broke into the yards in a heavy truck after an hour-and-a-half gun battle with the guards. They placed explosives in the two main engine shads which burst into flames as the bombs exploded.
As the attackers withdrew they ran into a road block set up by British troops and in the ensuing battle seven Jews were killed, several wounded and the others arrested. The bodies of two Jews were found later in the yards, at the scene of the explosion.
All approaches to the railroad shops had been mined prior to the attack. A fire engine summoned from Haifa to battle the blaze in the engine sheds was wrecked and several firemen injured when it ran over a mine. The fires raged until dawn. Units of the Royal Engineers were clearing the yard approaches of mines this afternoon.
In placards which were posted in prominent places in Tel Aviv last night the Haganah assumed responsibility for the destruction of the bridges, saying that 11 were blasted, and not eight as reported by the authorities. Earlier, the authorities announced that six Jews were killed when the railroad bridge at Azsib was blown up, rather than two as originally reported.
25,000 IN FUNERAL PROCESSION FOR YOUTH KILLED DURING BRIDGE BLASTING
Twenty-five thousand persons attended funeral services in Jerusalem this afternoon for Yechism Weitz, son of a JNF official, who was one of those killed at Azzib. A mile-long procession headed by members of the Jewish Agency, the Jewish National Council and leaders of the JNF followed the coffin to a cemetery on the Mount of Olives. A general work stoppage was observed by Jews here during the funeral.
A broadcast over the Haganah station “Voice of Israel” tonight warned the British military forces that no retaliatory or punitive measures would halt the activities of the Jewish resistance. It said that the sabotage carried out during the last two days was aimed at ousting vital British communication lines from the British military base in Palestine.
The broadcast reiterated previous warnings that the Jewish underground would not permit Palestine to be converted into the principal British military installation in the Middle East unless Jewish rights under the Mandate were respected.
Other reasons for the present operations by resistance forces, the announcer said, were to demonstrate the Jews’ ability to prevent military aid from being sent to the Palestine Arabs from neighboring countries, and also to show that the resistance can operate not only in the vicinity of the Jewish settlements, but also in areas which are predominantly Arab, and along the borders of Palestine.
THOUSANDS OF TROOPS PATROL COUNTRYSIDE; RAID JEWISH SETTLEMENTS
Meanwhile, thousands of troops were patrolling the countryside in the area of Sunday night’s attacks and large numbers of men and women were arrested after raids on Jewish settlements. Several of those detained are reported to be suffering from bullet wounds.
An army communique issued this morning said that police dogs following a trail picked up at the blasted Azzib bridge led troops to the colony of Matzuve, near Acre, where one badly wounded Jew was found.
Matzuva was surrounded by thousands of troops equipped with tanks and artillery who cut it off from the rest of the country. The settlers followed the same tactics used yesterday at Bath Haarava and offered passive resistance. The troops broke into the colony and searched all of the male residents. About 120 of them were taken to Acre for further questioning.
Searches were also carried out in the colonies of Hanita, near Matzuvs, and in Kineret and Maagan, in the Tiberias area. Seven Jews were arrested at Kineret on suspicion of having participated in an attack on a patrol of the Transjordan Frontier Force nearby.