1,014 La Spezia Refugees Disembark in Palestine; Apologize for Using Certificates
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1,014 La Spezia Refugees Disembark in Palestine; Apologize for Using Certificates

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Shortly after dawn today, the 1,014 Jewish refugees whose detainment at La Spezia, Italy, created an international incident, began disembarking from the Fede and the Fenice, renamed the Eliahu Golomb and Dov Hos.

The vessels arrived in Haifa harbor late last night under the escort of British destroyer Charity, which met them 60 miles off the Palestine coast. They left La Spezia on May 8, but were delayed for 28 hours in the port of Candia, Crete, into which they put when one of the passengers complained of severe pains, which were diagnosed as appendicitis. They were not permitted to leave Candia until they had paid the harbor master a “ransom” of $40.

Awaiting the arrivals were several of the 15 Jewish leaders who went on a hunger strike to protest their detention, representatives of the Jewish Agency and relatives. The first to disembark were five sick men and women who were brought from the ship in a lighter. They were followed by 100 pregnant women and 16 limbless partisans. The first passenger to step ashore was Chaya Ivanski, 20, from Stonitz, Poland, who walked to a Red Mogan David ambulance on which was inscribed “Gift of Boston Jewish Community.”

There ware about an equal number of men and women on board, ranging from youngsters to elderly veterans of concentration camps. About 200 of them are former partisans. Although they had sufficient food and water, most of them were weary from their long confinement. Despite this, they sang happily as they waited their turn to enter the launches which carried them to the dock. Some of the arrivals were apologetic that they were using immigration certificates, explaining that “we tried to enter illegally.”

As soon as the disembarkation was completed, the immigrants were taken to a quarantine station, where they were fed and sprayed with DDT by volunteer nurses. Six hundred were then moved to a new immigrant transit camp near Hadera, while the others were taken to Kiryat Schmual.

Prior to the landing, police care patrolled the area of the docks, alert for any trouble, as there had been rumours that Arab demonstrators would protest against the landings. The vessels were originally scheduled to dock at Tel Aviv, but the Charity directed them to Haifa.

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