LYDDA AIRPORT (Dec. 18)
Seventy-nine men, women and children – the first large group of exiles from Egypt to reach Israel – arrived here today (Tuesday) by way of Athens. Many of them were moved to tears as they alit from the E1 A1 airliner onto an airfield basking in a brilliant morning sun. As they assembled on Israel soil, they broke into the Israel national anthem, Hatikvah, but chanting the old words used before the establishment of the State.
The arrivals were welcomed at the airport by Israel Government officials who told them that “here is a place in which the Jews can live without fear.” A huge crowd of Israelis was present at the airport to welcome the newcomers, many of them friends and relatives, others seeking information about relatives remaining in Egypt.
Many of the arrivals carried French, Italian, Turkish and Greek passports. The Egyptian nationals, who were denied passports by the Egyptian authorities, carried laissez passer documents. In all cases, the papers of the refugees had been stamped by the Egyptian police, “left for good.”
REFUGEES DESCRIBE POLICE WARNINGS TO CLEAR OUT OF EGYPT
Most of the group had left Egypt during the first week of December. They described here how the Egyptian police had knocked at their doors by night and had ordered them to get out of Egypt. Although most of them were well dressed, they carried only hand luggage containing personal belongings – the only possessions the Egyptians permitted them to take.
Some of the new arrivals will join relatives here but the majority will go to the Jewish Agency’s immigrant villages near the major cities and towns.
The first written evidence confirming the official nature of the expulsion of the Jews from Egypt was brought here by Joseph Avigdor, one of the group of 79. He succeeded in smuggling through the Egyptian customs the order served on him for his expulsion. The document is signed by Mahmoud Ibrahim, director of the Egyptian Passport Department. It ordered Avigdor to leave Egypt within seven days.