Jerusalem (Oct. 7)
“Operation Land,” long and carefully planned by Jewish groups in Palestine as the next phase of Jewish resistance to the British policy of restricting Jewish immigration and land acquisition, was carried out successfully last night, when more than 1,000 Jewish settlers, including 300 girls, arrived in 200 trucks in the Negev, the southern desert part of Palestine, and established twelve settlements in the strategic district which the British had reserved for themselves under the “federalization plan.”
This is the largest colonization project ever carried out by Jews in Palestine in a single day. A Jewish Agency spokesman, calling it “a perfectly legal action,” announced today that the settlements were laid out on about 21,000 acres of land belonging to the Jewish National Fund. He placed the cost of the settlements, including the land, at nearly $3,000,000. Asked why the move was not announced beforehand, he stated that the reason had been to maintain “security silence.”
Although it is understood that the government is not planning any action against the new Jewish settlements, the settlers are erecting strong fences around the colonies. The government, it was authoritatively stated, does not object to settlements established on legally held land, provided they do not endanger security.
SETTLERS WORK ALL NIGHT; WELCOMED BY ARAB NEIGHBORS
The new settlements, established from dawn to dusk, lie in the area between Hebron and the Sinai peninsula. The settlers, mainly youths among whom were many ex-servicemen, worked energetically last night erecting wooden huts and started building construction. They intend to start immediately on large-scale irrigation.
British military headquarters officially stated today that strong troop movements observed in Southern Palestine this morning “had no connection” with the establishment of the new colonies. British troops with armored cars were reported to be moving towards the Negev.
Neighboring Bedouins and Arab villagers received the new Jewish settlers in a friendly fashion. They presented the customary gifts to the new arrivals, including a small amount of water, expressing the hope that the settlers would soon be able to bring water for themselves and their neighbors to the Negev.
Local police visited the settlements and helped in various ways. In the evening, the settlers celebrated with festivities and dancing. All over Palestine the Jews were jubilant at the good news which broke the routine of bombs and explosions and signified the turning to practical and constructive work.
The establishment of the twelve settlements came as a result of three years of patient and laborious planning, which included testing the soil and studying the climate, the dew, rainfall and other factors. The study culminated in the final decision to proceed with settling of Jews in an area which hitherto had been inaccessible because it had not been fully explored.
PREPARATIONS STARTED THREE WEEKS AGO AMIDST ABSOLUTE SECRECY
The actual preparations started three weeks ago amidst absolute secrecy. At dawn yesterday a long column of trucks, water tanks and trucks loaded with building materials, foodstuff and personal belongings of 1,000 men and women moved from five different bases, all in the south, to their destination, surprising the semi-nomadic Bedouins they passed on the roads. Arriving at the assigned spots, the settlers and volunteers who came along with them to assist in the settlement, immediately set to work. One group began to unload the trucks, while others started the actual building, and still others kept watch.
The colonization effort coincides with the fifth anniversary of the death of M.M. Ussishkin, the “father of the Jewish National Fund,” which was marked today by a traditional rally on Mount Scopus in Jerusalem under the chairmanship of Dr. Abraham Granovsky, head of the J.N.F., who announced that the income of the organization totalled $13,000,000 last year. He said that this exceeds by $4,000,000 the previous year’s income and that the Jews in the United States contributed most of the additional funds.