The Montreal Gazette - Jan 5, 1948 pg 1

Hotel Blasted in Jerusalem

20 Killed, 6 Entombed; Arab H.Q. Bombed, 14 Dead

Jerusalem, Jan 5 (Monday) AP

Two explosions tore apart the Semiramis Hotel in this city early this morning, killing 20 persons and burying six others, a few hours after bombs exploding in a crowded public square in Jaffa had smashed headquarters of the Arab National Committee with 14 dead and 98 wounded.

Reuters News Agency said the bombing of the Semiramis Hotel, reported to be the headquarters of two Arab youth organizations, was carried out during a heavy electrical storm. Adjacent houses were damaged and automatic rifle fire was heard immediately after the two explosions.

Arab sources in the port city of Jaffa placed the number of dead as high as 30 in the bombings there, where a police station, a branch of Barclays Bank and 15 shops were damaged in addition to the Arab political offices. Many persons were believed to have been trapped in falling masonry.

The 14 fatalities in the Jaffa explosions were all presumed to be Arabs. Today's death toll raised to 561 the total of persons killed in Arab-Jewish violence since the United Nations Assembly voted Nov. 29 to partition the Holy Land.

Meanwhile, rain soaked out a bitter two-day Arab siege of the Jewish quarter within the Old Walled City of Jerusalem, but the lull seemed likely to be brief.

The Jaffa bombs were believed to have been set by the Stern gang, Jewish extremist underground organization.

The explosions took place in Jaffa's Clock Square. Police said bombs were believed to have been hidden in two vehicles parked on either side of the entrance to the Arab headquarters - a three-ton orange truck and a sedan, driven up shortly before by persons in Arab garb. Two Jews on donkeys also had been seen on the spot.

Troops tonight, working under lights, dug for bodies in the wrecked Central Square while wire barricades held back crowds. Some reports described the blasts as the worst since that set off in Jerusalem's King David Hotel in 1946.

Jaffa is the twin city of Jewish Tel Aviv. The locality has been the scene of repeated Arab-Jewish clashes in recent months. Troops now guard the no man's land between the cities.

In Jerusalem, lights went out for the second time this week in the Katmon and Talfia residential sections, and telephone lines were cut to the strife-racked old city. There was no explanation.

Approximately 1,500 Jews were cut off by the Arabs int he ancient and sacred section of Jerusalem. From positions at the eight gates and atop the walls of the Old City the Arabs brought the Jewish quarter under their guns. One Arab roadblock was broken open by police using tear gas.

Flashes of tommy-gun fire and grenade explosions pierced the darkness. Rain-drenched Jewish and Arab fighters sought each other out in the twisting, narrow streets.

British Troops Intervene

In the bitter Jerusalem fighting Scottish infantrymen and police moved into the Walled City - a pivot of Middle East history for 3,000 years -- in an attempt to pry the battling Jews and Arabs apart.

The battle had raged for two days near shrines sacred to Christians, Jews and Arabs. There was fear that it might touch off the threatened full-scale war between Jews and Arabs for Palestine.

Both sides threatened to step up the pace. A spokesman for the Jewish Agency said the Jews would "shoot up an Arab road block" at one of the gates if necessary to lift the siege. He explained that no food convoy had reached the 1,500 surrounded Jews since last Thursday and added: "Naturally the Old City won't be blocked for any length of time with us looking on as spectators. The Arabs asserted guerrillas from Syria, Lebanon and Trans -Jordan had slipped into the Walled City to bolster Palestine Arabs.


The Montreal Gazette - Jan 5, 1948 pg 1

Britain Seeks Arab Treaties

Wants to Buttress Her Position in Middle East Affairs

London, Jan 4. (AP)

Britain intends to buttress her position in the Middle East with fresh Arabian alliances, government official said today.

Protection of Britain's Mediterranean communications is described as a prime consideration in the projected moves.

Sir Ronald Campbell, Ambassador to Egypt; Brig. I.N. Clayton, Minister for Arab Relations in the Cairo Embassy, and Sir Walter Smart, Oriental Minister at the Embassy, have been summoned home for talks this week with Foreign Secretary Bevin. Other diplomats are expected later in the month.

High on the program are Britain's economic, political and military relations with Egypt, Iraq, and Trans-Jordan.

The future of Palestine, however, transcends all other issues. There have been official hints that British leaders wonder whether the Holy Land might not yet become a testing ground for the conflicting ideologies of Russia and the western democracies.

Ambassador Campbell saw Egyptian Premier Mahmoud Fahmy Nokrashy Pasha before leaving Cairo and is understood to have been told that Egypt is ready in principle to try again to agree on a revised British-Egyptian Treaty. Negotiations for amending the 1936 alliance collapsed last year in disagreement over the Sudan's future. Egypt later called without success upon the United Nations to order the withdrawal of British troops from the Suez Canal Zone.

Iraq wants Britain to give up air bases and other military facilities she holds there. Iraq seeks a new alliance of mutual aid and friendship, based on principles of equality and the United Nations Charter. Trans-jordan officials may seek to bring their 1946 treaty with Britain up to date in light of the present Palestine situation.