British Flotilla Seizes Two Refugee Ships with 3,500 Aboard; Escorts Them to Haifa
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British Flotilla Seizes Two Refugee Ships with 3,500 Aboard; Escorts Them to Haifa

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The first of two blockade runners intercepted today by a British flotilla off the Palestine coast anchored off Haifa late this evening. The second transport which is being towed in is expected hourly. Informed sources stated that the 3,500 Jews aboard the vessels would be deported to Cyprus.

Earlier, broadcasts from one of the vessels, the Redemption, were relayed by Haganah radio station and picked up by radios in private homes and loudspeakers set up in the streets of Tel Aviv by the Resistance movement. The broadcasts declared that the two small craft were surrounded by seven British vessels which were preparing to land boarding parties. The announcer declared that the Jews would resist.

It was stated in official quarters tonight that boarding British sailors had met no resistance on the Redemption, originally named the Northlands. Some resistance, however, was met on the Paducah, renamed the Jewish State. No other information was available as to the nature of the resistance, although Tel Aviv and Haifa were rife with rumors.

Troops and police tonight cordoned off the fishing village of Sdoth Yam and Caesaria, both near here, in a hunt for visaless refugees. It is not known whether they were searching for the immigrants who may have swum from the two intercepted vessels before they were boarded or whether a third blockade runner had eluded the British.

The Redemption broadcast, which ended shortly after the announcer reported the British preparing boarding operations, declared: “Our spirits are not broken. We fought Hitler and we will fight the British. We have lost everything and have no more to lose,” The announcer also appealed to the United Nations to break the Palestine blockade.

Later, two young children were put on the air. They addressed the children of Palestine, describing their plight and contrasting it with the situation of the children already in the country. Referring to themselves as “orphans who wander the seas, without home and without shelter,” the boy and girl said they hoped to receive a home when “we reach our homeland.” The broadcast concluded with the singing of Hatikvah.

Meanwhile, the British set off depth charges in the harbor here to frighten off or blast frogmen who might damage deportation ferries. Three transports have been readied for the deportation of the refugees. The entire port area is overrun with troops, police, tanks and self-propelled artillery.

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