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Friday, May 14, 1948
Jewish state proclaimed in Palestine; Arab-Jewish fighting erupts
TEL AVIV, May 14, 1948 (UP) -- The new Jewish state of Israel was proclaimed in Palestine today as Britain's 30-year rule of the Holy Land ended.
The Jewish dream of nearly 2,000 years-a state of their own-came true at 4 p.m. (10 a.m. EDT) as the provisional government broadcast to the world that new Jewish republic called Israel had been born and would be defended against all enemies.
Even as the formal proclamation was issued, the Jews were at war. Fighting men of Haganah, the Jewish army, were in combat with Arab warriors from Dan to Beersheba, the Biblical limits of the Holy Land. And thousands of regular troops of surrounding Arab states-perhaps 20,000 men in all-were on the borders of Palestine for attack.
Bitter Arab-Jewish fighting for Jerusalem was reported here soon after the proclamation was issued. Veteran Jewish troops appeared to have the best of the fighting which probably will decide final control of Jerusalem. They had seized the former British security zone as the last of the Tommies moved out.
Late today unconfirmed private reports here said Haganah forces had seized virtual control of most of new Jerusalem by advancing toward the Old City walls. Haganah would not comment on the reports.
The Jewish flag-blue and white with a yellow star of David--already flew over many strategic buildings in Jerusalem, radio reports said, but strong Arab resistance was being met by Haganah men fighting their way toward the Jaffa gate leading to the Old City.
There was bitter Arab defense in the area of the former police headquarters and other government buildings in the Jaffa Road. Haganah men advanced house by house.
The international Red Cross raised its colors over the King David Hotel and the YMCA building in Jerusalem, it was said, and both Jews and Arabs were expected to respect them.
To the north, Haganah troops attacked the historic port of Acre, where Napoleon's army was defeated, and by early afternoon had captured it, wireless reports to Jewish headquarters here said.
British High Commissioner Sir Alan Cunningham gave the signal that British rule had ended. He reviewed the last contingents of British troops in Jerusalem today, then flew to Haifa, where boarded the British cruiser Euryalus, which was to sail at 12:01 a.m. tomorrow-one minute after the formal termination of the British mandate.
Haganah warned residents of Tel Aviv in a broadcast that they might be attacked by Arab planes in the next few days.
British troops also evacuated the Great Arab port of Jaffa by sea this morning, leaving the entire rich coastal area in the hands of Jews. Arabs and Jews already have signed an agreement giving Jews control of Jaffa and Haganah troops are expected to march in momentarily.
The British also withdrew their warships from the Palestine coastal blockade. Jewish freighters carrying supplies and, presumably, badly-needed war material, immediately steamed into Tel Aviv harbor.
The new incoming ships were given immediate priority over a long line of other freighters waiting in a full circle before the jetty. It is believed they were loaded with war materials in Mediterranean ports some time ago and timed their arrival to coincide with the British withdrawal.
Haganah sent all its 70,000 men and women to battle stations to defend the 5,500 square miles of the new Jewish state-about the area the United Nations partition plan of last November gave the Jews. All men and women 18 to 35 were mobilized. A general mobilization order was sent out calling upon "anyone who can bear arms" to report for active service. Hundreds of new recruits flocked to the colors of the new Jewish state.
Air raid precautions were ordered in Tel Aviv and other Jewish cities.
The vanguard of Arab forces, placed under supreme command of King Abdullah of Trans-Jordan, already were attacking the ancient city of Dan in the north.
Other Arab forces inside Palestine inflicted major defeats on the Jews west and south of Jerusalem, isolating the city from reinforcements and possibly opening the way for an Arab invasion thrust from the south.
Reports from Cairo said an Egyptian army of 10,000 men would march across the border into the Holy Land at one minute past midnight (6:01 p.m. EDT). The way through the Hebron hills was reported being cleared for them by advance units of Abdullah's Arab Legion.
King Farouk signed a royal decree authorizing proclamation of Martial law in Egypt last night and military rule in preparation for war with Palestine was expected to go into effect today.
Moshe Shertok, foreign minister designate of the new Jewish state, told a press conference that nothing now can halt the proclamation of a Jewish state before the end of the British mandate.
"There is an iron certainty we will not leave a vacuum here even for one second," Shertok said.
He disclosed that the United States delegation at Lake Success had asked the Jewish Agency to delay proclamation of a Jewish state until the political and military situation became settled.
It was reported that Shertok carried a message from U.S. Secretary of State George C. Marshall when he arrived in Tel Aviv two days ago. The message never was made public, but it may have been the same as Shertok announced at his press conference.
Shertok said the American request for delay was stated in strong terms but that no antagonistic action was threatened if the proposal was rejected. He denied that the United States had backed its request with any threat of sanctions.
He declined to predict what action the United States might take.
"We have no assurances of any kind," he said.
Copyright 2007 by United Press International.