Israeli Troops Detain Several Hundred Tel Aviv Residents in Search for Draft Dodgers

Several hundred persons in this city were detained today by Israeli authorities following the carrying out of a surprise “Operation Consolidation” designed to ferret out any draft dodgers among Israel’s population. An official announcement said that the identity papers of those detained will be scrutinized.

News of the raid against “shirkers” was first made known to a group of editors at a special midnight conference called by Col. Michael Bengal, Tel Aviv brigade commander. He revealed that all of the city is surrounded by Israeli troops and the search will continue for three days on a house-to-house basis. Similar investigations will be carried out in other parts of the country later, he said.

The “possibility of direct talks with the Arab states exists,” particularly with Transjordan, a spokesman for the Middle East section of the Foreign Office disclosed today, Reviewing the Arab refugee problem, the Israeli spokesman estimated the number of displaced Arabs at 300,000 to 700,000, with the most probable figure closer to 350,000.

“The Arab refugee problem will not be considered by the Israeli Government until the peace talks where the question of the Jews in the Arab world could be considered,” the spokesman said, “Israel will not propose a link between the two problems, but if an international agency like the United Nations does so, I do not think we would object. When the Arabs return they will be penniless and would have to be treated as immigrants. It has not yet been decided whether the 30,000 Arabs in Israel will be allowed to vote in the forthcoming election, as certain restrictions obtain in a war period, but I assume the Arabs will be granted a vote,” he added.

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