Refugee Ship Carrying 3,985 Visaless Jews Arrives in Palestine; Court Halts Deportation
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Refugee Ship Carrying 3,985 Visaless Jews Arrives in Palestine; Court Halts Deportation

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The small steamer “Lochitah,” renamed the “Knesseth Israel,” was escorted into Haifa this morning by two British destroyers, Aboard were 3,985 visaless Jews, the largest number of prospective immigrants to arrive in Palestine on a single vessel in the country’s history.

Before they had landed, writs of habeas corpus had been filed with the Palestine High Court on behalf of 1,941 of the immigrants whose names are known. The court issued writs ordering the Chief Secretary of the Palestine Government, the commander-in-chief of British military forces and several other high officials to show cause on Wednesday why the refugees should be deported.

The Attorney General, who represented the government, assured the court that the arrivals would not be sent to Cyprus before the hearing on Wednesday. The habeas corpus petitions were filed by Edward Goitein, British- Jewish lawyer.

A delegation representing the Jewish National Council attempted to see High Commissioner Sir Alan Cunningham to urge him not to deport the refugees under any circumstances, but the High Commissioner refused to see it, stating that he had not yet been officially informed of the arrival of the Knesseth Israel. He promised to contact the delegation later.


The Council representatives, among whom were Isaac Ben Zvi, its president, Goldie Meirson and Eliezer Perlson, deputy mayor of Tel Aviv, pointed out that the Raffa and Athlit clearance camps were empty and could be used to house the immigrants until they were granted immigration certificates. They declared that if the government were seriously interested in calming the population, it would not deport the newcomers.

The vessel, which is believed to have sailed from Italy, is reported to have been on the verge of sinking several times. The number of passengers aboard exceed by 1,000 the normal passenger list of the Queen Elizabeth. Four infants were born during the voyage.

The Hashomer Hatzair and the Tenua L’Achdut Avoda, left wing labor groups, today urged the current plenary session of the Jewish National Council to forward a protest to the United Nations against the British refusal to allow Jews into Palestine on the basis that the procedure constitutes racial discrimination.

The Hashomer Hatzair and other left-wing groups are expected to demand that the Council implement further stages of its planned non-cooperation policy with the government, since there are no indications that the authorities plan a change in the immigration policy.

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