TEL AVIV (Jun. 22)
J.T.A. CORRESPONDENT WATCHES BATTLE; DESCRIBES DEVELOPMENTS
A Jewish Telegraphic Agency correspondent this morning watched, from a distance of several hundred yards, a short battle between the Irgun vessel and a Pal mach barge, The Pal mach crow opened fire with heavy machine guns and the Irgunists soon replied. After a short but heavy exchange, the ship’s captain, a woman, radioed the Pal mach commander: “Do not fire on the ship. Children are still aboard, also large quantities of ammunition and arms.”
The inhabitants of Tel Aviv were shocked last night to hear an Irgun broadcast announce that “a fratricidal battle” was taking place between the Israel Defense Army and the Irgun, which recently merged with the army in all areas except Jerusalem. The announcer would that unless the army called off its attack, the fighting might spread to all parts of the country.
A Sternist statement issued later announced that the Stern Group was placing itself alongside the Irgun. The statement said: “If this continues we will have to draw the consequences, as we see that Israel’s army is behaving like a party force not a national army.”
The government’s communique last night on the situation declared that it was scare that a this carrying arms for the Irgun was due to arrive in Palestine and that it had been decided to take all measures to prevent its unloading. “The government saw in this arms traffic by a dissident group and particularly during the truce period a serious violation of Israel’ international obligations as well as a violation of the agreement Irgun soldiers concluded recently.” When the Irgunists refused to obey a command to cease unloading the vessel, the statement said government troops concentrated in the area were ordered to quell the revolt against the government authority.
The vessel was originally spotted approaching the Palestine coast yesterday by a U.N. patrol plane and its position and course were radioed to Tel Aviv”. During the entire operation U.N. observers were watching the vessel and attempt to unload it and were in regular contact with U.N. mediator Count Folke Bernadotte over their own radio network. It was unofficially reported that the ship landed 800 immigrants.