HAIFA (Jan. 25)
The first transport of 1,469 Jews to leave Cyprus following the decision of the British to release the 11,000 detainees on the Greek Island arrived here today aboard the S.S, Galila.
The Israeli warship, Haganah, went out to meet the vessel while she was still on the high seas. When the Galila entered Israeli territorial waters, the Haganah fired three salvos in honor of the new arrivals. Nearly every ship in Haifa harbor as decorated and be flagged for the occasion and most Israeli naval vessels and small craft steamed out to sea to accompany the Cyprus Jews on the last leg of their journey to Israel.
Bands played on several Israeli ships as the Galila approached the harbor. Numerous non-Israeli freighters joined in the crescendo of greeting and sent up deafening hoots of welcome. A British ship in port hoisted the Union Jack in honor of the immigrants while the flags of many other nations were also raised, Joining with Israel’s emblem in bidding the Jews welcome. The only ships which did not participate in the celebration were American and French warships and a Turkish freighter.
Thousands of wildly cheering spectators lined the Haifa docks since early morning. When the ship docked, Immigration Minister Moshe Shapiro, senior Government and Jewish Agency officials and high-ranking Army and Police officers boarded the Galila. An estimated 20,000 Jews crowded into the port area and sang Hatikvah as the Cyprus Jews disembarked. Army, Navy and Police units presented arms as the immigrants marched past them. Minister Shapiro took the salute of the armed forces.
In a statement to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, made aboard the Galila, Shapiro declared: “This is a great day for Israel. The day is forgotten when the Yishuv and the immigrants wept together when foreign soldiers forced the refugees coming home go to Cyprus. Kicked out by foreigners, these same refugees are returning today, welcomed by their own Army, Navy and Air Force, and received by their own government, welcoming them back with ‘Bracha’ and wishing them ‘Yishuv Tov’ in Israel.”
The immigrants constituted a cross-section of the 52,000 Jewish detainees who have passed through the Cyprus detention camps since 1946. Their embarkation was aided by representatives of the Joint Distribution Committee and the Red Mogen Dovid.