JERUSALEM (Jan. 4)
A terrific explosion rocked Jaffa today when a vehicle loaded with explosives blew up alongside the headquarters of the Arab National Committee and buried a large number of Arabs in the wreckage. The Stern Group is believed responsible for the attack.
The casualty figures varied, with official statistics listing 80 casualties, including 9 known dead. Private estimates however, ran much higher to 25 and 30 deed – while one Arab source set the death toll at 70. Some 15 Arab shops on the same narrow street as the two-story committee headquarters were severely damaged as was a nearby police headquarters and the adjoining Barclays Bank building.
In Jerusalem, a strong Arab attack on the walled Jewish quarter of the old City was beaten back by Haganah troops and British soldiers after penetrating a distance into the Jewish quarter through two holes blasted in a concrete defense well. Although the situation is highly confused in the quarter, one Haganah member and three unidentified persons are known to have been killed and a number of Jews and Britons wounded.
The Jewish quarter, which lies is the center of an Arab neighborhood, has been cut off from the remainder of Jerusalem for three days and has had no communication with the outside world since yesterday when the Arabs cut the main telephone lines. The Arabs laid siege to the six gates of the quarter on Friday, and the British have made no attempt to force entry for supplies of food and medicines for the surrounded Jews.
NEW ATTACKS EXPECTED AGAINST BESIEGED JEWS IN OLD CITY
Although the Arab raiders were thrown back and the British assert that they have placed a wedge of troops between the two forces, the situation is still precarious and new attacks were expected momentarily. Yesterday attacks were initiated by the Arabs after a strong police patrol had surrounded Haganah defense posts and disarmed them. The Arabs forced the weaponless Jaws to retreat and set fire to a number of shops before the police arrived.
The police in armored cars, made no attempt to pursue the Arabs, but for a while gave Jewish fire fighters some protection. However, they quickly decided that their presence was not needed and drove off, leaving the Jews exposed to sniper fire. The fire fighters withdrew leaving the shops to the flames. The Arabs also claim to have blown up a house in the quarter and killed six Jews who were in it at the time.
The Arabs and the British authorities have not yet agreed on what type of vehicle exploded in Jaffa. The Arabs and some British insist it was a Jeep which was driven up by Jews disguised as British soldiers, while other British authorities ##sert that it was a three-ton truck apparently loaded with orange crates and driven extremists in Arab dress.
The headquarters also housed the offices of Hajada and Futuwa, Arab “defense” ##rmies which have been active in the recent bottles on the Tel Aviv-Jaffa border. Informed quarters state that the National Committee in Jaffa was the second most important command center for the Arab guerrillas.
Shortly after the blast the British set up patrols in the border area checking all Jews and Arabs whom they found there in an attempt to find the perpetrators of the bombing. The raiders are believed to have driven from the scene in a second vehicle and later to have mingled with the Arabs in Jaffa and escaped. One British soldier was wounded in Jaffa later by an Arab sniper.
SEVEN JEWS DIE IN SPORADIC ATTACKS IN HAIFA
Seven Jews died in Haifa during the week-end in sporadic outbreaks of violence.
Some small-scale fighting also occurred on the Tel Aviv “front” during the week-end as wall as on the outskirts of Jerusalem where the Jews have abandoned the ordinary methods of transportation and are running a gauntlet of bullets in ?armored care to bring necessary supplies to Hadassah Hospital and the Hebrew University, both on Mt. Scopus. Jewish-chauffered taxis were once again seen on the streets of Jerusalem this week-end after the lifting of a ban on their movement following the bombing of a group of Arabs near the Damascus Gate by two Irgunists in a cab early last week.
Telephone communications between Jerusalem and the rest of the world were severed last night for the second time in 72 hours. Some 120 Jewish and Arab operators refused to report for night duty at the General Poet Office, which operates Palestine’s communications system, because they claim that they are not receiving sufficient protection against attacks.
The Jewish Agency executive met again today, with Dr. Moshe Sneh attending for the first time since his resignation from that body last week. He is believed to have given the members of the executive a personal account of the reasons for his action.
An Agency spokesman pointed out that the Agency has protested the disarming of Haganah militiamen in the old City. He asserted that the disarming was in violation of a promise by Chief Secretary Sir Henry L. Gurney’s promise that Jews holding defensive positions would not be disarmed.
The oft-reported truce between the Haganah and the Irgun Zvai Leumi has once again been reported signed–last Thursday night. One source said that it is understood that the truce agreement will Shortly be considered by the Agency and the Jewish National Council.