TEL AVIV (Mar. 27)
Israel’s Post Office Marine Radio Station aided a Lebanese ship in distress at sea off the coast of Israel, last night, in the first radio contact since 1948 between Israel and an Arab state.
During a severe storm, the Israel radio facility at Haifa picked up a distress signal from the Lebanese freighter, the Fulchera, which reported that its gear was stuck and that it had lost its bearings at a location west of Israel’s port of Ashdod, and so notified the ship via Cyprus.
The Beirut radio, which picked up the conversation between Haifa and the ship, then asked Haifa directly about the details of what was happening, and Haifa replied. About five hours later, the Fulchera radioed that its gear was functioning again and that it was proceeding to Rhodes. Throughout that period, Beirut remained in contact with Haifa.
Y. Freminger, director of the Israel Post Office Marine Station, said today: “This is the first time since 1948 that an Arab radio station called us directly. We were surprised, but we answered, giving all the pertinent information. Contact was renewed several times until the Fulchera reported that it was safely on its way to harbor.”