TEL AVIV (Aug. 12)
The Latrun pumping station which was to begin supplying the Jews in Jerusalem, with water under the supervision of the United Nations, was blasted today several hours after U.N. observers took it over from the Arabs, following the statement made by U.N. mediator Count Folke Bernadotte yesterday, predicting that water for Jerusalem via this station “will begin to flow within 48 hours.”
Immediately after the news of the blast became known, Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Shertok lodged a strong protest with Bernadotte and emphasized that the explosion constitutes “a most glaring breach of the truce, fraught with the gravest consequences.” He also issued orders countermanding previous permission given to unarmed Arab villagers to return to their villages in the Latrun area.
Shertok also recalled an order issued last night by the Israeli Government calling for the withdrawal of Israeli units from the Arab villages of Buweira and Ajanjul, in the Latrun area. The U.N. mediator late today announced that as a result of the wrecking of the Latrun station he has cancelled his request to the Israeli authorities to evacuate these two Arab villages.
U.N. REPRESENTATIVE A LAUNCH INVESTIGATION; ISRAEL DEMANDS SANCTIONS
The vital pumping station, which was expected to be back in operation today and which would have assured the 100,000 Jews in Jerusalem of a virtually unlimited supply of water, was dynamited by a group of seven, mufti-clad men. U.N. observers “who witnessed the explosion said that at first indications the blast appeared to be the work of Arab irregulars. Because of the pre-dawn darkness, the U.N, officials said they could see only “vague forms.” A full investigation, ordered by the U.N. headquarters in Haifa, is at present under way. Most of the machinery in the station was badly damaged.
Israel Government circles assume that the Arabs will, charge that irregulars blew up and set fire to the station, but Jewish engineers pointed out today that at least a half-ton of explosives would have been required for the job, and that that quantity could not have been brought to the site without some knowledge by responsible Arab authorities.
Commenting on the explosion, a government spokesman declared today: “The Provisional Government of Israel takes the most serious view of this Arab action against the United Nations authority. The explosion occurred almost in the presence of the mediator, who was there yesterday, and who assured us repeatedly of the Arab legion’s good will.
“You’ll see, you’ll get your water, wait another day, he told us,” the spokesman continued. “Since the trace became effective, the Latrun pumping station has been U.N. territory. Yesterday, the United Nations assured that not only Arabs but U.N. personnel were present in the area. We consider those who are feeding us false assurances as bearing a grievous responsibility,” he said.
“Since the truce began, 100,000 Jerusalem Jews have been without water despite the guarantees of the U.N. The mediator termed the Legion’s refusal to allow us to bring in water a serious breach of the truce, but we patiently accepted repeated delays, relying on the mediator’s assurances that the matter would be remedied,” he said.
Replying to correspondents’ questions, the spokesman said that Israel expects the United Nations to apply sanctions against this “glaring breach of the truce.” A report on the bombing has been sent to the U.N. Security Council. Major Locket, a British officer commanding the Arab Legion in the Latrun area, has been approached by the U.N. investigators and asked for information.