4,000 Refugees Transferred to Cyprus After Court Rejects Plea to Bar Deportations
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4,000 Refugees Transferred to Cyprus After Court Rejects Plea to Bar Deportations

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Jews throughout Palestine observed three minutes of silence at 3 p.m. today to protest against the ruling by the Supreme Court that deportation of visaless Jews to Cyprus is legal under the emergency defense regulations. In lieu of a more protracted strike, the Drive for Rescue and Defense launched a campaign for contributions of a half-day’s pay by every Jew to finance new immigration.

Immediately after the court’s ruling, which was delivered at 9 a.m., the three British transports, on which the nearly 4,000 Jews who arrived this week aboard the Knesseth Israel had been confined since Tuesday, sailed for Cyprus. They had been cruising in territorial waters for the past 48 hours awaiting the court’s verdict.

The verdict, which was read by Chief Justice Sir William Fitzgerald, said that detention of the refugee Jews in Cyprus and on board British transports en route to the island was not illegal. Sir William added that the deportations were within the authority of the High Commissioner, not only because the immigrants had no visas, but also because their landing would be prejudicial to public security.

The courtroom was surrounded by troops and police while the verdict was being read. Troop reinforcements were also sent to Haifa and the port area was sealed off in anticipation of possible demonstrations, but there were no incidents.

An Agency spokesman, addressing a press conference shortly after the court had adjourned, said that the legal justification for the deportations was based on laws which the Jews regard as completely arbitrary and “legal absolutism.” If the deportations are supposedly justifiable on the basis of maintaining public order, he added, the authorities should realize that they are likely to have exactly the opposite effect. He said that the London Government was not opposed to admission of the Knesseth Israel refugees, but was overruled by the Palestine civil and military administration.

(In London, the Colonial Office issued a statement declaring that there was “absolutely no truth” in the reports that it was not opposed to the admission into Palestine of the 4,000 visaless immigrants.)


After issuing a communique early today announcing the deportations, and expressing regret that “it has once more been compelled to transfer illegal immigrants to Cyprus,” the government issued another one tonight apparently designed to allay the resentment caused by the deportations. The new announcement said that High Commissioner Sir Alan Cunningham has decided to admit 1,000 deportees from Cyprus, in addition to the 1,050 who will enter as legal immigrants under the Nov.-Dec. and Dec.-Jan. quotas. The immigrants will be chosen on the “first in, first out” basis, with exceptions for special cases.

The High Commissioner conferred today with Field Marshal Viscount Montgomery who is investigating the military situation here. Montgomery also saw Lieut. Gen. Sir Evelyn Barker, commander-in-chief of all British troops here, and other high civil and military officials, including Inspector-General Giles of the Palestine police.

The Haganah radio, “Voice of Israel,” commenting tonight on the court’s decision, quoted from Isaiah: “We looked for judgment, but behold–oppression.” The broadcast warned that “those who fight our people’s hope shall not know peace.” Immigration will continue it concluded. In telephone calls to all newspaper offices last night, a representative of the Stern Group warned that if the Knesseth Israel refugees were deported, “revenge will not be late in coming.”

The Jewish Communist Party of Palestine announced today that it has sent a memorandum to the United Nations demanding establishment of a Jewish-Arab state in Palestine, abrogation of the British mandate and the immediate evacuation of all British troops. It urged the U.N. to appoint a commission to investigate the operations of the British Army in Palestine since last June 29, the date of the arrest of Jewish Agency leaders and widespread raids on Jewish colonies.

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