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Haganah Routs Arab Units in Six-four Battle in Hebron Hills; 100 Invaders Reported Dead

January 15, 1948
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A six-hour battle between several hundred Arab guerrillas and settlers in a group of Orthodox Jewish colonies midway between Hebron and Jerusalem ended tonight in a complete rout of the invaders.

The inhabitants of the colonies and their Haganah guards suffered few casualties, but inflicted heavy losses on the guerrillas, who were reinforced by Arabs from mountain settlements in the Hebron Hills. One report said nearly 100 Arabs were killed by machine-gun fire and mines but the Arabs listed 12 dead. The Haganah pursued the fleeing attackers for more than five miles, breaking through several road-clocks.

The assault began at dawn, when Ein Zurim was attacked from three sides by a small group. When the inhabitants returned the Arab fire, the latter summoned reinforcements and the operation was extended to include attacks on Kfar Etzion and Massout Itzhak. The marauders, who used mortars and machine-guns, were led by Fakhri Maraki, a gang chieftain in the 1936 disturbances, who escaped from the Acre jail last summer during the mass jailbreak engineered by the Irgun.

British police in armored cars rushed to the settlements when word of their plight was flashed to Jerusalem, but found difficulty in approaching the scene of the battle since the Arabs had erected massive roadblocks and mined the approaches to the colonies.


Shortly before 7 p.m., the Haganah launched a mortar attack on the Sheikh Jarach quarter of Jerusalem, which controls the route to the Hebrew University and Hadassah Hospital. It was the second such attack in two days, 20 houses having been demolished yesterday. Observers on Mount Scopus said that more than a dozen shells fell into the quarter tonight, causing extensive damage.

Late tonight, shooting spread to other parts of the city and the Arabs launched an attack on the Sanhedrin quarter. At 10 p.m. a battle was raging on the outskirts of the city.

The house of the ex-Mufti, located on a slope of Mount Scopus, outside the Sheikh Jarach quarter, was demolished tonight by Sternists. An armored ambulance from Hadassah Hospital was attacked in the vicinity earlier and a nurse wounded. Another ambulance carrying new born infants was also fired upon, but there were no casualties.

The Sternists announced this afternoon that they had sent a demolition squad into the Manshieh quarter of Jaffa, which adjoins Tel Aviv, and blasted two houses which had been used as snipers’ posts. The announcement that an unknown number of Arabs had beer killed, while the Sternists returned without any losses. A police account of the incident later said that three Arabs were killed and a ten-year-old ?rl fatally injured. Another snipers’ position was blown up by British troops. At night-fall a minor engagement developed on the Tel Aviv-Jaffa border.

Six Jews were killed in Haifa today when a stolen post office truck filled ##th explosives was parked near the Savoy Hotel by two Arabs who fled. A British policeman was also killed and another injured. Later, there was sporadic shooting the city’s commercial center.

A Jewish woman and her non-Jewish husband were killed today by a sniper ##lie standing outside British military headquarters in an Arab quarter of Jerusalem. He victims were Thomas Berry, a civilian employee of the army, and his wife, the daughter of an unnamed Tel Aviv Judge.


A government spokesman revealed today that the authorities have been negating with the heads of the various religious communities to make Jerusalem an open city,” but had made little progress. It is understood in authoritative Jewish Quarters that Jewish leaders will never agree to the proposal, since it is coupled {SPAN}##th{/SPAN} the proviso that the more than 1,500 Jews now besieged in the Old City leave their homes there.

While the Jews it was stressed, favor the proposal as such, they cannot agree to evacuate the Old City. Responsible Jewish quarters commented bitterly that ##e government apparently desires to expel Jaws from the Old City, which is, at least, ?s holy to the Jews and to the other religions, and wants to present the international authority which will take over the city with a fait accompli at the expense of the Jews. If Jerusalem were to be given the status of an “open city,” both Arabs and Jews would have, to agree to cease all violence and not to seek any military advantage it each other’s expense.

Meanwhile, the Haganah distributed Arabic leaflets today warning the Arabs that unless the siege of the Old City was lifted, the Haganah would set up cordons around Arab quarters of Jerusalem. The leaflets also warned villagers against allowing their settlements to be used as bases for snipers or guerrillas.

In other incidents during the past 24 hours, Shmuel Ben Bassal, 35, was killed when an. Arab band attacked Hartuv, near Latrun; Sarah Friedman, 52, the proprietor of a beauty shop, was killed when stabbed by a member of the so-called Arab National Guard on. Julian’s Way in Jerusalem in view of British police who reused to interfere, and a false rumor was spread that the car of the Iraqian consul had been attacked by Jews and his wife, the daughter of King Abdullah, killed.

Leading citizens of the Arab village of Khirbet Bethfar, accompanied by a British police officer, visited nearby Kfar Urish, which was the target of a week-end attack which coat six lives, and asked that a truce be negotiated. The Arabs said that the attackers of Kfar Urish had been “foreign elements.” It was learned from other sources that troops of the Transjordan Arab legion had been involved in the attack.

It was reported tonight that King Ibn Saud has requested and received permission from, the Palestine Government to send troops into Jerusalem to protect the Saudi Arabian consulate.

The central committee of the Agudas Israel today cabled to the executive committees of its branches in New York, London, and Zurich requesting that they take action to prevent the Jews from being driven from the Old City. The cable also stressed that the Jews were out off from the Wailing Wall.

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