TEL AVIV (May. 21)
A counterattacking Haganah force today dislodged the Syrian Army from the town of Samakh, key to the south Tiberias section, and pushed the invaders farther south, in the opposite direction from their bases.
The successful Jewish thrust was made possible by an heroic eight-hour defense at the colony of Degania yesterday and last night, during which the aggressors’ strength was sapped on futile attempts to overwhelm the Jews. When the battle at Degania ended a number of tanks and armored cars used by the Arabs had been wrecked and the remaining two armored vehicles of the force had been captured by the defenders.
Today’s victory marks the second time that the Arabs have been forced to retreat from positions in Samakh. In the town the Jews seized a large quantity of arms and munitions and found many Arab corpses. Beit Joseph, near Samakh, beat off a new Arab raid.
ARABS INFILTRATE MEAH SHEARIM QUARTER IN JERUSALEM
In Jerusalem the situation remains virtually unchanged, except for the loss of additional lives and use of munitions, a Haganah communique revealed. The Arab legion was repulsed in several attempts to break through the Jews’ desperate last line of defense in the Old City. The Arabs have kept up a ceaseless artillery barrage. Their activities north of the Old City seem to have borne better fruit. The latest reports state that the Arabs are infiltrating the Jewish Meah Shearim quarter, although at a heavy cost, and are shelling Ramath Rachel, a suburb south of the city.
In yesterday’s shelling of Jewish controlled areas the Legion destroyed one wing of the Hadassah Hospital–containing X-ray equipment and the operating theatre. According to Dr. Eli Davis, acting director of the hospital, the institution’s value as a hospital has been destroyed by the shelling and several of the patients and staff have already been evacuated. Jewish circles in Jerusalem hope that the Red Cross will step in and evacuate the wounded and the staff. Dr. Davis revealed that 27 wounded and most of the 45 unwounded members of the staff still have to be evacuated.
A water shortage is causing acute suffering in Jerusalem. Available supplies are dwindling rapidly. It is impossible to obtain a glass of drinking water or enough water to wash one’s hands. One of the eights of the city is the queues of persons waiting for water from the tank trucks.
Food is in short supply, too. At one of the biggest restaurants in the Jewish section of modern Jerusalem, a meal consists of a small serving of meat, a spoonful of potatoes or peas, a thin soup and a lonely sardine on a chunk of bread. This meal costs the equivalent of four dollars.
Gershon Hirsch, Jewish Agency spokesman in Jerusalem–the Agency is still so referred to in the Holy City–told a press conference that Jewish leaders consider the Arab Legion’s entrance Into Palestine tantamount to “a British invasion through the back door.”
Hirsch said that the Agency replied to the British consul’s plea for “respect” for Gaza airfield as British property by pointing out that Egyptians now occupy it. The Agency advised the consul, he declared, “to take all necessary steps to ensure the evacuation of Gaza airfield by the Egyptians. Failing this, the Jewish forces will be obliged to take action with regard to British ownership.”
JEWISH AIR FORCE SHIFTS ITS ATTACKS FROM SYRIA TO EGYPTIAN POINTS
For the second night in a row the Jewish air force struck at the Arabs. This time they shifted their target from Syrian concentrations in Samakh to Egyptian points in the Gaza area. The target areas were left blazing and all Jewish planes returned safely to base. A group of planes also raided an Arab concentration at Kfar Shafet, northwest of Jerusalem. An attack on Yad Mordechai, in the Negev, by Egyptian infantry was beaten off.
Tel Aviv suffered two air attacks today, but there is no official report available on casualties. During the first raid Egyptian Spitfires circled the city for 45 minutes and finally dropped their load of bombs on the suburbs.The Irgun reported that one of its soldiers shot down an Arab plane strafing Rehoboth. Four British Spitfires which flew over the city yesterday almost became targets, the Haganah announced today. However, they were recognized in time and no anti-aircraft ##ms were fired.
In Tel Aviv this morning an agreement was signed between the municipality and the Red Cross placing all the hospitals in the city under the protection of the international relief agency. All hospitals will be marked with the Red Cross within the shortest possible time.
Hundreds of Jewish colonists and Haganah guards abandoned a number of colonies north of the Dead Sea last night, including Beit Haarava and Sdom, which were bypassed by the Arab Legion’s advance on Jerusalem and cut off in all-Arab territory. Before they left, the Jews burned all installations belonging to the Palestine Potash Company.