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Four Killed in Arab Attack on Jewish Convoy Escorted by United Nations Observers

September 23, 1948
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Four persons–three men and a woman–were killed today when a Jewish convoy proceeding from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem under United Nations escort was ambushed by a party of ten Arab Legion soldiers at the Latrun pumping station, it was officially announced. Acting mediator Ralphe Bunche, who was in Jerusalem when news of the attack was received, immediately hurried to the scene to investigate.

The Jewish convoy, which was completely unarmed, consisted of two passenger cars, six trucks and an oil tank truck preceded by a white painted jeep in which a United Nations observer traveled. When the first volley rang out, the observer frantically signaled the Arabs to cease fire. When his efforts proved futile the observer, reported to be an American Marine, left the scene and made his way to the headquarters of the Arab Legion area commander, in the Latrun Monastery. The convoy commander, who was wounded in the first volley, ordered the passengers and other personnel to take cover in nearby ditches. Before they could get out of the line of machinegun and rifle fire, the convoy commander and three other were killed. The survivors returned to their vehicles and turned back to Tel Aviv.

One of the victims was John Locke Lewis, an engineer, who recently arrived in this country on an assignment for the Kanpp Engineering Company of Philadelphia. The woman who was killed was identified as a Mrs. Van Vriesland, a sister-in-law of S.S. Hoofien, director of the Anglo-Palestine Bank.

A.L. Kanvaty, head of the “Cedat” Liberation Association, with is a Free Lebanon movement, today broadcast an appeal to his fellow countrymen to overthrow the government of Lebanese Premier Riah el Solh. Speaking on the Voice of Israel station, Kanvaty charged that el Solh. “Belongs on the Moslem Minority which oppresses the Christian majority” of Lebanon. Before Kanvaty began his address, the Israeli announcer pointed out that the “free people of Israel are pleased to offer these facilities,” to Kanvaty, but cannot take responsibility for the speaker’s statements.

The Chief Rabbinate met in Jerusalem today to condemn the assassination and send condolences to the families of Bernadotte and Serot, and to the Swedish and French Governments. The Rabbinate has ordered special prayers recited in synagogues throughout the world.

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