British Guards, Haifa AirportHaganah Has City In a 3-Prong Grip

British Vainly Try to Effect Truce So as to Spare Civil Population

By Kenneth Bilby By Wireless to the Herald Tribune Copyright, 1948, New York Herald Tribune Inc.

JERUSALEM, April 22.-Haifa, third largest city of Palestine and evacuation port of the British Army, became a virtual Jewish stronghold tonight after a series of savage thrusts by Haganah, the Jewish army, won control of most of the city’s Arab areas and provoked a mass Arab exodus by sea.

British control of the port area remained secure, but the three-pronged Jewish attack which began yesterday overran most of the government buildings, the central railway station and part of the congested Arab quarters near the docks.

Jewish sources said tonight that 10,000 of the 40,000 Arabs in Haifa had fled in fishing sloops and rowboats to Acre, Arab strong-hold across Haifa Bay. Arab casualties, according to Haganah, were “extremely heavy.” One British Army source estimated 400 Arab dead.
British Appeal for Truce

British officials sought repeatedly during the afternoon to obtain a truce and thus spare the civilian population. Haganah terms, which have not been met, were reported to include- surrender of all Arab arms to the Jews, deportation from the city of “all foreign fighting elements,” a twenty-four-hour curfew to disarm Arabs and deliverance to Haganah of all “Nazis” on the Arab side.

A late bulletin revealed that truce talks were adjourned tonight until 11 a. m. tomorrow. The last government announcement said. “The Jews have over-come Arab resistance with the exception of a few points where fighting is still going on.”

Haganah was reported in full control of all roads leading into Haifa and had also captured several villages, including Tireh, to prevent Arab reinforcements from arriving.

David Ben-Gurion, head of the de facto Jewish state, told this correspondent tonight that the Jews had no intention of driving out Arab inhabitants of Haifa and making another all-Jewish city. They were welcome, he said, provided they lived peaceably. There are 70,000 Jews living in Haifa.

The struggle was easily the most portentous of the Palestinian war. Control of Haifa after the British evacuation is completed Aug. 1 would give Jewish forces the most important port in the Middle East, the terminus of the Iraq Petroleum Company pipe line and a center of industry and oil refineries.

With Haifa secure, Jewish domination of the Mediterranean coast of Palestine would be nearly complete. The only other sizable port is at Jaffa, next door to the Jewish capital of Tel Aviv. An attack upon it is considered imminent.

The Jewish assault, supported by six-inch mortar fire, was launched from the base of Mount Carmel after word had been received that the British were evacuating government buildings.

Haganah occupied the new commercial center of Haifa with its government buildings in quick order. It then penetrated Harma Squire at the entrance of the Suk, a congested market and residential area predominantly Arab. Late tonight the Jews had pushed through to the eastern gate of the Suk, and its Arab inhabitants had fled to harbor piers where they awaited transport to Acre, a town of 8,000 about ten miles across Haifa Bay.

Some of the heaviest fighting was reported in Wadi Nisnas, a ravine occupied by Arabs in the city’s outskirts. A government bulletin said Arab casualties there were heavy.

Fires were spotted throughout the city. Khoury House, headquarters of the Palestine Railways, was gutted and all its records destroyed. Mortar shells started a fire in the dock area, which was extinguished by British troops.

Although British troops remained aloof from the struggle, four officers were wounded in the hail of fire that blanketed the city. A British constable was also wounded.

In Jerusalem, the Jews obtained another tactical advantage by completing a small airport in the western suburbs from which small planes can fly to all sections of Palestine. The first landing at the field was made today. It is the first airstrip within the Holy City.