TEL AVIV (Jul. 11)
Israeli forces today fought their way into the streets of Ramleh, major Arab town athwart of the main Tel Aviv-Jerusalem supply route and less than 15 miles from the Israeli capital. The penetration of Ramleh follows yesterday’s capture of the Lydda airport, near Ramleh, by the Jews.
Meanwhile, other Jewish troops were consolidating their positions in the Lyd?-Ramleh-Ben Shemen area in preparation for a thrust against Arab towns and strategic positions on the central coastal plain. At the same time, the Jews in Jerusalem were marshalling their forces for an all-out push against the Arab Legion units in the walled Old City and in the suburbs surrounding Jerusalem.
Until now possession of Ramleh has given the Arabs an important wedge in the Tel Aviv area and has forced Jewish supply convoys headed for Jerusalem to take long detours on back roads in order to avoid the Arab blockade. In both this battle and yesterday’s surprisingly swift seizure of the airport the Jews used large numbers of heavy tanks.
For the third time since she truce expired Friday morning Tel Aviv was bombed from the air today. However, like the previous raids this one was ineffective with the Egyptian pilots jettisoning their missiles from a great height and making no attempt to hit military targets. It was revealed that a special children’s colony at Ben Shemen which was cut off for the last seven months and supplied by air was finally liberated yesterday during the early stages of the Jewish push.
JEWS TAKE INITIATIVE; ARABS SURPRISINGLY INACTIVE
The military events of the last 36 hours–especially in the Lyda-Ramleh area have surprised military observers here who expected three Arab offensives as promise by the Arab League states during the week proceeding the end of the truce. Instead, it is the Jews who have concentrated a great supply of weapons and have taken the initiative. This is true along the entire length of the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem road, where Arab Legion troops have not fought unless attacked by the Jews. In the north land northeast, Israeli planes have been active and the Arabs have held their offensive action down to artillery barrages with no infantry concentrations in evidence except in the south.
In Jerusalem the first 24 hours of fighting (a local truce extended the U.N. cease-fire for a portion of a day) saw little change in the strategic positions occupied by either the Jews or the Arab Legionnaires. However, Jewish forces have blasted a number of empty buildings standing in the way of an assault against several gates to the Old City, apparently preparing the way for an offensive at a later time. An artillery duel was fought for a long time yesterday between Arab six-pound cannon and the Jews Palestine-manufactured heavy mortars known as “King David,” In the Arab suburb of Ein Karem, the Jews have captured a number of houses held by Arab snipers and the civilian population has begun to evacuate the village.
In that city the Haganah, Irgun and Stern Group have again reunited for purposesof continuing the battle. The overall command is in the hands of the Haganah, but on the local scene each unit has its own commander. It was announced today that four Britons held by the Irgun for “intelligence with the enemy” will be tried shortly by that organization. Although the men were captured and held in Jerusalem, it is expected that they will be tried in Tel Aviv.
After restraining themselves for most of the duration of the U.K. truce and for 36 hours after the cease-fire expired, Jewish troops in the Nazareth area finally went after Fawzi el Kaukuji’s guerrillas in earnest yesterday. The Israelis penetrated Arab defenses around the city and shelled a police station on the edge of Nazareth, from which about 1,000 irregulars have been attacking various Jewish positions.
In the south the Jews fought off attacks by the Egyptians and Sudanese against Nogta, evacuated Kfar Darom and repulsed a mechanized attack from the direction of Najdal, major Egyptian invasion base. Jewish planes also bombed Majdal. In the north the Jews and Arabs locked in battle at Mishmar Hayarden, while Israeli planes bombed Kuneitra,a base in Syria.