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Major Drive Against Black Market on in Israel; Ben Gurion Gets Extraordinary Powers

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The nationwide anti-black market drive which began late last week is now in full swing with Premier David Ben Gurion utilizing new powers conferred on him by the Cabinet to authorize police and troops to carry out large-scale searches for illicit hoards of consumer goods.

Many persons have already been arrested, including a number of well-known merchants. One merchant has been reported to have been arrested, tried, convicted and sentenced to 18 years imprisonment.

The Cabinet this week-end, after receiving the Premier’s report on the black market, invested in him for the duration of three months, the powers formerly held by the British High Commissioner of Palestine under the Defense Regulation. These powers give him the right to order arrests and detention of suspects, search of premises and confiscation of goods destined for the black market.

About 40 tribunals have been set up to deal speedily with black market cases and profiteering as numerous organizations, unions and societies met to pledge support to the new campaign.

At Tel Aviv, the Merchants’ Associations was on record in support of the Premirer’s call to the country for an all-out fight against the black market. In a statement denouncing black marketing as one of the main dangers facing the country, the association called on its members to place all their stocks at the disposal of the public at official prices. The statement concluded by expressing hope that the Premier would give due consideration to the demands made by the merchants.

The association opened ten bureaus in Tel Aviv and 20 in surrounding villages to receive and deal with complaints from the public on profiteering and withholding of commodities.

Meanwhile, Davar, the Mapai newspaper, today criticized the Haifa port authorities for confiscating food parcels of immigrants who arrive at the port of debarkation. The newspaper asserted that this food is needed in Israel and if news of the confiscations reach the embarkation centers the prospective immigrants will stop bringing in extra food.

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