Menu JTA Search

Old City of Jerusalem Falls to Arabs; Jews Gain in Battle for Tel Aviv Highway

SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING

The Old City, ancient walled town in the center of Jerusalem in which Jews have dwelt for tens of generations, fell this afternoon to King Abdullah’s Arab Legion after a siege of eleven days during which the outnumbered and outgunned Jewish defenders turned every stone and house into a sniper’s post and a fortress. Jewish sources estimated that the trapped Jews numbered between 1,500 and 1,600 persons, including 300 women and children who will be turned over to the Red Cross.

The surrender negotiations were opened by two rabbis who entered the Arab lines this morning under a white flag of truce. Later, the head of the municipal government of the Jewish quarter of the Old City and two Israeli military officers entered the Legion lines to hear the surrender terms laid down by Abdullah. The younger men will be interned “outside of Palestine” while the old men will be turned over to the Bed Cross.

Many of the survivors are wounded and all are starved because there has been no food inside the Jewish lines for several days. Ammunition was extremely short and all Jews, concentrated in three houses, were exhausted.

Jewish sources tonight claimed substantial successes in the battle of the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway and asserted that the Arabs had suffered “fantastic” casualties. The battle, which has centered about Latrun, some 30 miles west of Jerusalem, is developing into a battle for the entire city of Jerusalem. The principal aim of the Arabs is to cut the road and starve into surrender the 90,000 Jews who control most of the new city.

Because Jewish forces in Jerusalem were pinned down by the Arabs the attempt to break through Arab concentrations along the road was initiated by Palmach units rushed up from Tel Aviv and other western areas where the fighting had died down. The Arab Legion has diverted a large number of crack troops from the Jerusalem tattle and thrown them into the highway attack. Both sides are using considerable artillery and Jewish anti-aircraft fire downed an Iraqi bomber over Latrun. Several Arab villages south of Latrun have fallen to the Israelis.

Formation of the Israel Defense Army, composed of land, sea and air forces, was decreed today by the Israeli Government at a special meeting of the Provisional Government Council. The decree forbids the existence of any other armed Jewish forces outside this army. It also provides for conscription for all three branches of the service the government to determine which age groups are to be called up.

BRITAIN ACCUSED OF IMPOSING ECONOMIC SANCTIONS AGAINST ISRAEL

The charge that the British Government is imposing economic sanctions against Israel and, by blocking in London the Palestine currency’s coverage as well as Palestine deposits in British banks, is endangering the Jewish state’s economic structure, was made here today by David Horowitz, Under-Secretary of State for the Treasury.

The Israeli official revealed that “four foreign vessels which passed Egyptian ports with non-military cargo, chiefly foodstuffs bound for Israel, were forced to unload their cargoes, since the Egyptian Government is confiscating all Israel-bound goods.” It is still uncertain what countermeasures will be taken by the Israeli Government, as well as by the ship owners, he added.

Plans for the development of the Israeli merchant marine were reviewed by Horowitz, who said that several vessels, including passenger ships, are already operating under the new state’s flag.

NEXT STORY