TEL AVIV (May. 31)
Arab forces appeared today to be preparing for a major assault on Tel Aviv, Israel’s civil and military headquarters. Iraqi, Transjordan and Egyptian force were reported moving into position for an attack from the northern, eastern and southern approaches to the Jewish metropolis. There was no official confirmation of these reports from Israeli quarters, however.
The battle at Latrun, commanding the strategic highway from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which has been raging for several days with both the Israeli and Arab high commands pouring increasing numbers of men and materiel into the struggle, reaches a peak with both sides reporting victories. A late Arab Legion communique claimed that the Haganah force engaged at Latrun has been routed, but Israeli dispatches said that a Jewish task force had seized and burned the village and police station of Latrun, leaving 150 enemy troops dead before withdrawing. Ten Israelis were listed as killed and 40 wounded.
The censorship of news from Jerusalem and the major fighting fronts prevented correspondents here from dispatching full reports on the results f the battles. Renewed Arab Legion artillery shelling of Jerusalem’s new city, where between 90,000 and 100,000 Jews have been out off from the rest of the country’s Jewish population for nearly a month, was reported here. Meanwhile, Premier David Ben Gurion, in a broadcast today to the Jews in Jerusalem, promised them that strong Israeli land and air forces would soon deliver the city. He also urged the besieged Jews to stand fast and “be of good courage.”
A raid yesterday by Irgun Zvai Leumi commando units on Ras el Ein, near Petach Tikvah, the source of Jerusalem’s water supply, precipitated a fierce counterattack by Iraqi troops who after a 12-hour battle recaptured the town. Iraqi mechanized units were also reported to have occupied Kolm, six miles north of Tel Aviv, while other Iraqi troops, operating out of Tulkarm, carried out hit-and-run raids against the Jewish settlements of Kfar ##nah, Nahalat Shavim and Beit Yitzchak, some 25 miles north of Tel Aviv.
Arab Legionnaires who were successful in bringing about the surrender of the 1,500 beleagured Jews in the Old City on Friday, today were said to have fanned out to Har Tuv, west of Jerusalem and some 20 miles from Tel Aviv. At the same time, Egyptian troops engaged in a see-saw battle with an Israeli unit at Isdud, 23 miles south of the Israel metropolis, issued a communique claiming they routed the Jews, but this, like the other Arab reports, remained unconfirmed here.
An Israeli communique reported last night that a Jewish striking force had penetrated one-and-a-half miles into Lebanon “where Arab units were cleared from Altaroun.” Israeli planes also bombed two Lebanese towns near the frontier, while other Jewish columns destroyed two police stations along the Syrian border. Earlier, light Israeli plans were reported to have dropped mortar bombs on Arab concentrations near Ramallah and Nablus.
U.N. mediator Count Folke Bernadotte arrived here today from Haifa and is expected to leave tomorrow morning for a meeting with Arab leaders.