JERUSALEM (Jan. 5)
The Haganah tonight assumed responsibility for the blasting of the Semiramis Hotel in the Katamon quarter of Jerusalem during the predawn hours this morning in which five Arabs are known to have died and 13 persons are still missing beneath the rubble of the building.
A Haganah spokesman said that the hotel was blown up because it was “a meeting place for Arab gangs and a distribution point for weapons from Jerusalem to the adjoining Arab villages. Unfortunately,” he added, “we cannot strike at the main headquarters of the Arab bands because it is secreted in the El Aksa Mosque.” It is also known that the hotel was the headquarters for the local Najada and Futuwa “defense” army headquarters and a meeting place for members of the Arab Higher executive and the anti-Zionist boycott committee.
The explosion caused a breakdown of water and power facilities in the neighborhood and the rubble blocked the streets, causing bus companies to discontinue service. Many consular offices in the area closed clown today because of the disruption of utility services and several, including the Swiss and the Czech, are known to be looking for other quarters in safer parts of the city.
The attack was carried out by two cars fall of Jews who opened the raid by burling a hand grenade at the hotel. The grenade caused little damage, but was followed by intensive rifle and tommygun fire, under cover of which the raiders apparently placed a heavy explosive charge against the side of the building Minutes later the bomb exploded, wrecking the building, smashing windows throughout the neighborhood and littering the streets with rubble and glass fragments.
The blast brought Arabs flocking into the streets throughout the section. The retreating raiders tangled with the crowd and fired a number of shots at the Arabs before they succeeded in disengaging themselves.
MUFTI’S SECRETARY AND SPANISH DIPLOMATS REPORTED AMONG VICTIMS
Among the reported dead in the attack were the recently-arrived Spanish consul, Manuel Salazar Travesedo, and Subhi Tahir, a secretary of the ex-Mufti of Jerusalem. The Spanish vice-consul is listed as missing.
Until about a week ago the quarter was inhabited by about equal numbers of Jews and Arabs, but most of the Jews were evacuated after a number had been killed by Arab thugs and gunmen and the local Arab committee had ordered them to leave. Some observers believe that today’s attack was in retaliation for the killing of Jews as well as for the attempt to force them out of the district.
Meanwhile, a mass exodus of Arabs from katamon has been reported under way since the explosion. In Romena, quarter, which was also a mixed neighborhood until ## past few days, the Arabs are deserting their homes in fear of bomb attacks. ### have sold or sub-let their homes to Jews.
ARAB MAYORS OF JERUSALEM SUBURB SIGN TRUCE WITH JEWISH COMMUNITY COUNCIL
The two mukhtars of the Arab village of Lifta, a suburb which adjoins the Rome quarter, today signed a truce with the co-chairmen of the Jerusalem Jewish Community Council under which the mukhtars guarantee not to allow foreign Arabs to use their village as base for attacks on Jewish areas.
Despite a severe electrical and rainstorm last night, Arabs besieging the Jewish quarter of the Old City which has been cut off from supplies and communications with the rest of Jerusalem since last Friday, launched a new attack. The Haganah counter-attacked and drove the Arabs back with hand grenades and heavy fire, inflicting numerous casualties.
The latest Arab attack came after a lull of seven hours and was attributed to ##he arrival of news of yesterdays Jaffa explosion. The latest official communique ## the Jaffa blast, apparently set off by the Stern Group, is 18 dead and 98 injured.
The Jaffa-Tel Aviv “front” was the scene of sporadic activity all last night and today. At least one Jew, Ephraim Lanaman, 25, was killed and several others were ?ounded by snipers during the day.
Haganah circles disclose that the Arabs in Jaffa have established a strongpoint equipped with Sten guns in the Hassan Bek Mosque which overlooks a Jewish neighborhood on the Tel Aviv border. The Jews have drawn the attention of the British to the fact that the Arabs are using a house of worship as a sniping post, out the British have paid no attention to the protests.
JERUSALEM’S OLD CITY REMAINS CUT OFF; SAFAD JEWS ISOLATED
A Jewish Agency spokesman today issued a statement describing as “literally unparalleled anywhere in the world” the situation which exists now in the Old City. He pointed out that Arab gangs without any legal status have barricaded five of the six gates to the city and refuse to permit anyone to enter without being searched, and have cut off several thousand Jews from all outside contact.
“What amazes us,” said the spokesman, “is not only that the military authorities put up with this state of affairs, but that the British soldiers are happy to show their identification before being permitted to pass through the Arab posts. The Old City is run by writ of the Arab executive and everybody submits to it.”
Not only is the Jewish quarter of the Old City cut off, but Safad, a predominantly Jewish town in an all-Arab area, has been without telephonic communication with the outside world for several days since Arab guerrillas cut the telephone lines. Jewish-chauffeured cars attempting to enter the town are fired on by snipers and a number of Jewish settlement police who fired at Arab snipers have been disarmed by the British police. The latest, and most heavy attack against the Jewish section of the city was repulsed by Haganah units in entrenched strongly fortified positions.
The Haganah reported that it has carried out a number of reprisal attacks in Arab areas where Jews were killed. Three houses were blasted and several casualties were inflicted in a three-hour punitive attack on the Arab village of Tra, on the outskirts of Haifa, where many of the Arab workers who participated in the lynching of 41 Jews last week at the Consolidated refineries reside. Four Arabs were killed and a number wounded in battles on the Jerusalem outskirts where the Haganah attacked bands which have been raiding Jewish traffic.