Jerusalem (Aug. 22)
Explosives planted by three members of the Haganah last night tore an eight-foot hole in the side of the Empire Rival, which had just returned from Cyprus to load another group of deportees.
In a daring raid, three swimmers approached the vessel as it lay at anchor in Haifa harbor and attached magnetic mines, despite shots fired by guards and small depth charges dropped in the harbor to discourage saboteurs. Immediately after the explosion, part of the ship’s hull filled with water, but its bulkheads held and it remained afloat. Later it made its way to shallow water under its own steam.
A curfew was immediately clamped down on the harbor area, which was lifted at 9 a.m. Troops made searches in Jewish settlements along Haifa Bay, while reinforcements were placed aboard vessels in the harbor.
The “Voice of Israel” broadcast today, stating that the Haganah assumed responsibility for the blasting of the ship and said that the Empire Heywood which was forced by an explosion to put back to Haifa after leaving for Cyprus last Sunday had also been sabotaged by the resistance movement.
BOTH BRITISH DEPORTATION VESSELS NOW IDLE IN HAIFA HARBOR
Naval experts who inspected the Empire Rival have estimated that the ship must remain in shallow water at least three months until the hole in her hull can be repaired. It is not yet known when the Empire Heywood will be able to leave for Cyprus.
Advance units of the British First Armored Division arrived here last night. It was reported several weeks ago that this division would be moved to Palestine from Italy, but at that time the War Office issued strenuous denials.
Tel Aviv and adjoining colonies were the center of large-scale military activities last night leading residents to believe that the “third phase” of British operations had begun. The situation was confused and it is still not known whether the raids were the beginning of new actions or merely an isolated operation. The explosion of a boiler in a flour mill between Haifa and Tel Aviv, which was heard throughout both cities may have precipitated the military action.
The private letter box section of the Jerusalem post office was closed off today and it was announced that they were being transferred to another section of the city. The post office, which has received a dozen bomb warnings in the past week, is within the “fortress” section of the city and it is believed that normal mail activities will be transferred elsewhere to facilitate access by civilians.
The Arab News Agency reports from Damascus that 15 Jews arrested this week as they attempted to cross the Syrian border into Palestine have been sentenced to six months imprisonment.
The local branch of the “Moslem Brotherhood,” which has been described as the Arab equivalent of the “Palmach,” the Haganah striking force, is extending its activities and organizing branches throughout the country and recruiting new members. At its new headquarters in Jerusalem last night 1,000 new members took an oath to the Mufti and wound up the ceremonies with a parade, fireworks and shooting in the air.
It was officially announced here tonight that four Jews suspected of terrorism have been deported to Eritres.