Jerusalem (Sep. 26)
Jewish observers here questioned the motives of the Palestine Government in suddenly “revealing” today that two exploratory oil wells are being drilled in the Gaza area. The Jews termed the operation “political drilling.”
Pointing out that although this is not the first time that oil is being sought in the country, that the operation has been in preparation since 1946 and that oil drilling is normally a secret business procedure, they expressed surprise that the government suddenly made arrangements to usher a party of newspapermen around the site of the drillings on the same day that the United Nations Ad Hoc Committee on Palestine began its deliberations and Colonial Secretary Arthur Creech-Jones announced Britain’s willingness to withdraw from the Mandate.
The wells are being sunk by Petroleum Development, a subsidiary of the Iraq Petroleum Corporation, at the Arab village of Huleiquat, 10 miles northeast of Gaza, and near the settlement of Doroth, midway between Jerusalem and Gaza. The experts are French, British and American and the laborers are Arab; not a single Jew is employed on the job. The wells are already down to a depth of 250 feet and about $4,000,000 is reportedly invested in the enterprise.
It is also known that a Jewish company is drilling in the Dead Sea area, but no details of the operation are known. Various exploratory wells have been sunk in Palestine since the end of the first World War, but thus far no major oil deposit has been uncovered.