forces engage the enemy from a secure position (photo David
Most Crowded Hours in Palestine's History
(May 16) -- Between Thursday night and
this morning Palestine went through what by all standards must be
among the most crowded hours in history.
For the Jewish population there was the
anguish over the fate of the few hundred Haganah men and women in the
Kfar Etzion bloc of settlements near Hebron. Their surrender to a
fully equipped superior foreign force desperately in need of a victory
was a foregone conclusion. What could not be known, with no
communications since Thursday morning, was whether and to what extent
the Red Cross and the Truce Consuls would secure civilized conditions
for prisoners and wounded, and proper respect for the dead. Doubt on
some of these anxious questions have now been resolved.
On Friday afternoon, from Tel Aviv, came the
expected announcement of the Jewish State and its official naming at
birth, "Medinat Yisrael" - State of Israel, with the swearing in of
the first Council of Government. The proclamation of the State was
made at midnight, coinciding with the sailing from Haifa of Britain's
last High Commissioner. Within the hour, President Truman announced in
Washington that the Government of the United States had decided to
give de facto recognition to the Jewish State, with all that such
recognition implied. The Assembly of the United Nations, meeting since
the middle of April for "further study" of the Palestine problem was
thus left, by one means or another, to ratify the Two-States decision
of November last year, or dissolve with nothing concrete to its
credit. The Assembly adjourned with the resolution to appoint a
mediator between the Jew and Arabs, to cooperate with the Security
Council's Truce Commission in Jerusalem.
Russian Recognition Awaited
Russia and her allies had given early assurance of their intention to
recognize the Jewish State, whoever else did or did not. As a result
of Washington's action and the Eastern Bloc's stand, other countries
are expected to extend their recognition to the newly born state.
Nor did the Arab Bloc remain idle. True
promises, or threats, the members of the Arab League completed their
plans for a full-scale invasion of Palestine in what has been
described as a Moslem "crusade" against the Jews. Tel Aviv was bombed
twice yesterday by Egyptian war planes. One of the enemy planes was
shot down by a Jewish fighter plane, and the pilot taken prisoner,
showing that this move against the civilian population was not a
surprise, and that the Jewish preparations include anti-aircraft
A black-out has been ordered for the whole of
Jewish Palestine. Tel Aviv itself having blacked out on Friday.
At the same time, the air was filled with
reports of two Egyptian columns on the move from the south towards
Gaza and Beer Sheba, and of intensified shelling from across the
northern border of Jewish settlements in North Eastern Galilee.
The Security Council met yesterday in a
special session to consider action on the invasion of Palestine by
member states of the U.N.
In the afternoon, Jerusalem was subjected to
shelling from the northwest.
Haganah forces throughout the country
continued mopping up, and Jewish and Jewish sources claimed most of
Western Galilee safe against attack. Naharayim, near Jist el Majamie,
inside Trans-Jordan, where the Jordan river works of the Palestine
Electric Corporation are, is claimed by the Arab Legion. The battle
for the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem Road at Bab el Wad is still on, Haganah
taking two villages - Abu Shusha and Kubab - between Ramleh and Latrun.
Converging an Old City
In Jerusalem the "cease fire" observed on both sides for six days was
broken on Friday, although the more strategic buildings in Princess
Mary Avenue, the Russian Compound, and Jaffa Road passed to the Jews
without a shot being fired, as did the David Building commanding the
road to the German Colony and Railway Station. By yesterday evening,
Jewish forces were approaching some of the gates of the Old City. The
Police Training School on Mt. Scopus and Sheikh Harrah are in Jewish
On Friday morning, the Truce Commission met
at the French Consulate and invited Jewish and Arab representatives to
confer with them. Jewish Agency delegates agreed that the "cease fire"
be extended in Jerusalem for eight days. Arab representatives could
not attend, they said, because of the firing in Julian's Way, and a
two-hour respite was arranged from 5 to 7 in the evening. Whether they
agreed or not, became academic as by that time the battle for
Jerusalem had been renewed.
To Jerusalem's tension was added the
aggravation of electric power failing in most parts of the city, as
nearly all of the Electric Corporation's lines had been shot down.
This meant, on top of the other heardships to a fuel-less city, no
broadcast news yesterday, when there were no newspapers. For more than
a week the city was also without piped water.