JERUSALEM (Apr. 16)
Striking at Arab strongpoints threatening Jewish vehicular traffic along the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem main artery, Haganah forces this morning occupied the strategic Arab village of Saris.
Using mortars and smaller weapons, the Haganah troops swooped down on the heavily-fortified Arab stronghold from the surrounding hills, destroying at least 25 houses in the surprise assault. The village was occupied by Iraqi troops under the command of German officers, who withdrew after a brief exchange of fire.
Saris is the location of the Ras el Ein pumping station for the Jerusalem later line and its control by Jews ensures the city’s Jewish population of a fairly table source of water supply. Haganah headquarters points out that the only remaining Arab-dominated section of the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv road is a small area from Bab ?l Wad to Saris. When this stretch of road, as well as Bab el Wad itself, is seized, the Jews will be in complete control of the vital highway.
Meanwhile, terse dispatches from the Mishmar Haemek battlefront, where a large Haganah unit has succeeded in surrounding the main striking force of Fawzi faukuji in a major engagement, indicated that fighting in that sector has subsided. however, it was believed here that the lull might be a prelude to an even greater battle than yesterday in which several hundred Arabs were reported killed and faukuji escaped near capture by fleeing across the border to Trans Jordan.
A Jewish convoy in the Gaza district, in southern Palestine, was attacked twice by Arab guerrillas while it was en route north, presumably after having delivered supplies to an isolated settlement. One vehicle was disabled and one Jew seriously injured, Jewish sources said. The convoy returned to its base after the Jews inflicted a number of casualties on the raiders.
Jerusalem’s electricity supply was threatened yesterday following a huge fire that broke out near the city’s electric power station. The blaze, of undetermined origin, destroyed huge stocks of fuel oil and caused dense clouds of black smoke to blanket the city.
A Jewish Agency spokesman said today that the Arab states fear intervention by the Transjordan Arab Legion in the military struggle between Jews and Arabs in Palestine since King Abdullah would attempt to occupy certain parts of the country in line with his “Greater Syria” plans.
The spokesman pointed out that Legion units have recently begun to provide military escorts from Beersheba to Hebron, from Hebron to Jerusalem and from Jerusalem to Ramallah. Emphasizing that the Transjordan troops are contemplating escorting Arab convoys along additional routes, the spokesman asserted that this was a matter of concern not only to the Jews but to Syria and Lebanon as well.