HAIFA (May. 26)
An official police statement issued here today revealed that seven young Jews bound for Israel are feared lost as a result of a high seas action in which the captain and crew of a small schooner forced 30 Jewish passengers into the sea at the point of guns. The statement said the 23 who were rescued remained in the water for 48 hours.
According to the official police version of the incident, the captain of the vessel–which previously was identified as of east Mediterranean nationality–informed his passengers, who had paid him $200 each for passage, that he could not sail his vessel to Israel since he did not have any landing papers. He told the Jews they would have to Jump into the water and make their way to Israel as best they could.
The captain then threw into the sea about 30 barrels tied together to make a raft and a dory capable of holding five persons, the police statement continued. When the Jews refused to jump into the sea, the captain and his crew drew guns. The Jews begged him to wait until nightfall and try to approach the Israeli coast. He agreed.
Sunday night, the police report added, the captain forced the Jews into the water. Seventeen of the passengers crowded into the boat meant for five, while the remaining 13 Jews were put on the barrel-raft. The barrels soon broke loose and only six of the 13 who had been on the raft were able to secure themselves to the beat. Israeli marine police brought the survivors to shore and conducted a fruitless search for the other seven.